New Canaan’s rivalry with next-door neighbor Darien finds perhaps its rawest form of expression in the Turkey Bowl, the annual Thanksgiving morning football game between two ultra-competitive and athletic high schools.
Set for 10:30 am. this Thursday, at Stamford High School’s Boyle Stadium, the 2015 Turkey Bowl again doubles as the FCIAC championship game (both teams are undefeated this season) and follows a shocking comeback victory for the Blue Wave one year ago.
The Rams would regroup and post their own late-game win vs. Darien in the 2014 state final, though many would say there’s something extra-special about the Turkey Bowl itself—a local tradition that sees thousands of NCHS and DHS alumni gather during the family holiday.
And that makes it extra-difficult for those with strong ties to both towns. Ahead of Terry’s game preview (which will lead our newsletter tomorrow—sign up here), we’re speaking to some prominent locals who fall into that awkward category, and we’re asking them this question: Where do your loyalties lay?
Here’s what they said:
- New Canaan ties: resident, firefighter, first selectman, longtime family-owned business Bob’s Sports
- Darien ties: grew up there, Darien High School class of 1980
- Response to question: “The New Canaan High School Rams, for crying out loud.”
- More: Asked if he’s ever struggled with that allegiance, Mallozzi answered: “Totally.” The first selectman grew up and lived in Darien and moved to New Canaan in 1993, a few years after marrying. Mallozzi said that Thursday will mark the first Turkey Bowl in at least a decade where he’s planning to attend the entire game, as Meals On Wheels delivery duty has pulled him away in recent years. Asked whether there’s any question of his loyalties, Mallozzi said: “None whatsoever. Listen, I totally bleed New Canaan Rams red and black. Hockey is a different story. My best friend that I grew up with that I played with at Darien High School is now the head coach of Darien’s hockey team. So that is going to be interesting this year when I go to the [New Canaan-Darien] hockey match. That will be an interesting dynamic. But in terms of football, when I moved to New Canaan, I was a New Canaan sports fan, I truly was.”
- New Canaan ties: executive director of the New Canaan Community Foundation
- Darien ties: resident, raising family
- Response to question: “I am rooting for both teams to play an amazing game and display good sportsmanship and have the best team win.”
- More: Told that her answer above wasn’t good enough, Gorey said: “I am rooting for Darien, OK? I will just say it. That is where I pay my taxes. I love Rob Trifone and he’s married to the girls’ high school team swim coach, Marj Trifone.” Gorey’s daughter Catherine is a DHS junior—the Blue Wave won states, while New Canaan won FCIACs and Greenwich won opens.
- New Canaan ties: Five years as New Canaan’s budget director
- Darien ties: Hired as finance director for Darien, starting job next month
- Response to question: “That is tough, because I am sitting in New Canaan now and that is what I know, but you certainly do not want to go against a future employer. That’s a tough one.” Charneski asked which team is considered the underdog, and told that both New Canaan and Darien are undefeated, she said: “In that case, I will not start [in Darien] until Dec. 7, so I will have to say [that I support] New Canaan.”
- More: Asked what she would say to Darienites who will read this and conclude that she is infiltrating their town in order to mess it up, Charneski responded: “I would tell them that next year my answer will be different.”
- New Canaan ties: Owner of iconic restaurant Cherry Street East, purveyor of best burger in town; played football at St. Luke’s School under Dick Whitcomb in the early-1980s; married to a ’93 NCHS grad
- Darien ties: Born and raised; sister’s ex-husband’s brother’s son is Darien High School’s standout running back Shelby Grant
- Response to question: “I have grown to pull for New Canaan over the years because of all of the nicest patrons that come to Cherry Street East, the greatest people in New Canaan.”
- More: “Don’t get me wrong—my sister lives in Darien and has kids who go to Darien High School. I always want to see a close game, and I’m not super upset if Darien wins. But if it’s a last-second play, I kind of lean toward New Canaan. Over the years, Darien is considered the underdog, the record goes to show that New Canaan has won more championships. I love coach [Lou] Marinelli. He’s a great guy, everybody from New Canaan has been so nice to me, and there are people from Darien who come to Cherry Street also.”
Kimberly La Du
- New Canaan ties: owner, Manfredi Jewels
- Darien ties: resident, raising a family
- Response to question: “I thought about your question because you told me last year you were going to do this, and it’s a very hard decision, who to root for. I am a mom before I am a business owner, so I have to root for my kids’ friends. I need my kids happy with the outcome of the game and they will be if Darien wins, and I will be happy either way.”
- More: “It’s a tough decision, but the mom wins before the business person wins.”
- New Canaan ties: grew up here, NCHS class of ’91; starred as two-way starter at fullback and defensive line sophomore through senior year at NCHS; wife also ’91 NCHS grad (Jenna Stewart)
- Darien ties: resident raising a family; youth sports coach in Darien; board member, Darien Junior Football League
- Response: “I don’t root against anybody.”
- More: “I have I have lived in Darien for four or five years and I have got friends of mine that have kids playing in the game, I have kids who I have coached in the youth football program who have brothers playing in the game, so I want them to do well. Certainly I’m very proud to have grown up in New Canaan and played for Lou. I’m friends with Chris Silvestri and Dante Correnty, and I want them to do well. When my kids are playing against New Canaan, I am obviously rooting for Darien. I just want it to be a good game. There are two teams and clearly rest of FCIAC has gone to the toilet, so you can’t really handicap this game because they’re winning by such huge margins. You can’t tell whether New Canaan or Darien is better. I just want it to be a good game. I have heard such guff from both sides of the Merritt Parkway over the last 20 years. I try to stay away from it.”