‘They Never Forget Who Won the Turkey Bowl’: New Canaan-Darien Rival Football Game Set for Thursday


Scenes from the Turkey Bowl at Boyle Stadium in Stamford, Nov. 23, 2017. Credit: Chris Cody

Legacy. Tradition. Community. 

A battle between two rivals, putting everything on the line. The Turkey Bowl is more than just a game—it’s a clash of two giants giving their blood, sweat, and tears.

Scenes from the Nov. 24, 2016 Turkey Bowl. Credit: Chris Cody

As residents of New Canaan and Darien put their turkeys in the ovens, the high school football players of both towns prepare to suit up. They’re playing for more than themselves—they are playing for bragging rights, the generations before them and, above all else, their hometowns. Beyond being an amazing spectacle for the fans, the Turkey Bowl is a special event because of its ability to unite and connect people around the sport of football.

For New Canaan High School Athletic Director Jay Egan, the Turkey Bowl is “a true ‘Homecoming’ event for our community.”

Zach Allen tackles a Darien kid at the 2014 Turkey Bowl. Terry Dinan photo

“NCHS alumni of all ages look forward to attending the game to see old friends and relive their memories of New Canaan,” Egan said. “Players and fans rarely remember the team record from year to year, but they never forget who won the Turkey Bowl.”

This year’s Rams-Blue Wave rival game will be played at 10 a.m. Thursday at Darien High School. Tickets are sold out, though the game will be broadcast live on NCTV 78.

The Turkey Bowl is a matchup of two football programs having successful seasons. 

Scenes from the Turkey Bowl at Boyle Stadium in Stamford, Nov. 23, 2017. Credit: Chris Cody

Ranked fifth in the state, New Canaan High School (8-1) has only lost to third-ranked St Joseph’s. Darien High School (6-3) has seen some struggles so far but has secured two dominant wins following its most recent loss. Both teams hold the same 6-1 record in FCIAC play, meaning that the game will decide the winner of the FCIAC East division. 

The Turkey Bowl has been a monumental event within the community since 1928, when the rivalry’s annual football game began. The teams have competed for the prestigious victory for 94 years, with New Canaan leading Darien all-time 54-38-2. As the teams are set to square off once more, New Canaan is playing to extend the school’s Turkey Bowl win streak to five. Just as the members of the community have always done, the players must compete with something bigger than themselves in mind.

Senior co-captain Jack Conley holds the Sikorski Trophy high after the 2018 Turkey Bowl, won by New Canaan 17-14 over Darien. Nov. 22, 2018 at Boyle Stadium in Stamford. Credit: Michael Dinan

Jack Conley, a New Canaan Football alumnus and current offensive lineman for Boston College, said the tradition is important to him. 

“The Turkey Bowl has meant a lot to my family and me for many years,” he said. “While growing up watching the team on Thanksgiving, I was always in awe.”

Conley saw great success in his Thanksgiving games against Darien throughout his New Canaan career, winning in both his junior and senior seasons. 

“Playing in those games were some of my best memories from high school—the environment and energy that surrounds the game are nothing short of remarkable,” he said. “Now, as an alumni looking back and watching the game, it’s honestly very surreal. I have even caught myself wishing I could go back and play in it one more time.”

A scene from the 2013 Turkey Bowl. Credit: Terry Dinan

The meaning and impact of the Turkey Bowl are clear, as it is an event that connects past and present members of the New Canaan community. It is truly a testament to the power that a simple game of football can hold. Now, all that is left is to watch some football and eat turkey. 

As Jack Conley said, “The turkey always tastes better after a win.”

Donovan West is a New Canaan High School sophomore and aspiring sports journalist. At NCHS, he writes for the Courant and plays basketball and volleyball. He’s a sports fanatic and can always be found watching the Michigan State Spartans, NY Yankees, or NY Giants.

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