No Turkey Bowl, Tigers Winless for the First Time and Redneck Nachos
Friday, Oct. 20, was a tough day covering sports as a White Plains resident and sports journalist. The NY Yankees got trounced in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, 7-1. Also, the White Plains High School Football Team went winless (0-8) for the first time in the school’s history, while losing to Horace Greely High School, 28-26, in the Section 1 non-playoff postseason format.
The difference between the Yankees loss and the Tigers defeat on Friday is that the Yankees would get another opportunity to rectify their failure in an ensuing ALCS Game 7, on Saturday, while the Tigers would not have another game this year.
The Yankees eventually squandered their opportunity by losing to the Houston Astros, 4-0, eliminating the “Bronx Bombers” from World Series competition this year.
However, the young Tigers will not get an opportunity to go out as winners, as they do not have another game scheduled this season. The traditional Turkey Bowl, which was scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, against city rival Stepinac High School has been canceled, which would have been the Tigers final game this season.
The adage, “they did not win the game; we lost it” was never more applicable than when applied to the result of the White Plains versus Quakers game, in Chappaqua, on Friday night.
With 4:52 left in the fourth quarter Tigers QB Marcus Andre found tight-end Anthony Russo in the end zone with a 27-yard touchdown pass to make the score 26-14, for the Tigers. One minute and 40 seconds later, Quakers QB Ryan Flanagan threw a 24-yard TD Pass to wide receiver Danny Meringolo. Then with the Tigers winning, 26-21, the Quakers tried an onside kick on the ensuing kick-off.
Unexplainably, even with Tigers Head Coach Mike Lindberg, screaming from the sidelines before the kick. “Just fall on the ball, just fall on it!” The Tigers special team proceeded to try and catch the ball, which resulted in a turnover on the White Plains 46 yard-line.
But as the Quakers found hope to secure a victory, Tigers sophomore Caleb Gillen made a great play, intercepting Flanagan on the Tigers 15-yard line with 1:17 left in the game. However, instead of taking a knee (game over), he opted to run and lateral the ball, which resulted in a fumble recovered by Greeley.
Then the Quakers quick-snapped the Tigers with 42 seconds left on the clock and wide receiver Jacob Rose got behind the secondary to receive the winning touchdown pass from Flanagan, 28-26.
As the Tigers proceeded to give a victory to the Quakers, White Plains Athletic Director Matthew Cameron, who is a fixture at all of the Tigers football games, spoke with the White Plains Examiner regarding the cancellation of the coveted Turkey Bowl.
Cameron released an official statement on October 17, which read: “After a great deal of careful deliberation, this year’s Thanksgiving Day football game must be cancelled. With the rejection of our appeal to Section I to allow our football players who participate in a Thanksgiving game to try out for, practice and participate in winter sports prior to the game and in concert with our very real concern that our players, having ended their season in October, cannot reasonably stay in condition to play a game at the end of November, it is necessary for us to change the calendar and cancel the game. We regret the circumstances that have caused us to make this decision. However, we know that the health, safety and wellbeing of our students must always be our first priority. Additionally, we must also make decisions that afford our student athletes the greatest opportunity for success, on all of our teams.”
First, let’s clear up a rumor that has been circling around that the White Plains Public Schools Board voted on this issue; that is unequivocally not true. “No, the Board did not vote on it. It was not a resolution,” firmly stated Cameron. “In September, I sent a recommendation to the Superintendent (of the White Plains Schools District) based on the ruling that we got from Section 1.”
Cameron had been working with Section 1, The Athletic Council, all three Conferences and the Executive Committee to change the language in the Section 1 Constitution. In Section 1, athletes cannot play more than one sport in the same season. Cameron submitted an appeal to the rule in January, which was denied.
“The 34 players we have on the football team cannot touch a Winter Sport (e.g. basketball, wrestling, hockey and swimming) until a week after Thanksgiving. Also in the Commissioner’s regulations it recommends that students take a week off after a strenuous sport,” explained Cameron.
But here is where the rule gets confusing and seems to crossover from its original intention and the priority for the rule implementation, which is for the overall safety of the student/athletes. If your team in Section 1 athletics is involved in the Playoffs, Regional or NYS postseason competition those players can carry over practices for that Winter Sports season.
Therefore, Cameron emphasizes referring to the Turkey Bowl. “This is not a Playoff game, or State or Regional contest, it is just an extra game during the season. Last year our hockey players (who played football) missed four games. It is not fair to the winter coaches or winter players because they have to have a second tryout against players who have been in the sport already for four or five weeks. Furthermore, it is hard on the winter coaches, who save roster spots for the football players, who may become injured or decide not to play winter sports.”
Also there has been talk around the city that the traditional Turkey Bowl rivalry has been canceled permanently considering future years. This also is not true. However, the possibility does exist, if no change is made to the Section 1 Constitution in the future. “As long as the Constitution is what it is, it is not in the best interest of our student/athletes to participate in that game, so until some of those other things change with the Section 1 Constitution, I do not anticipate us (White Plains High School) playing in the Turkey Bowl,” said Cameron.
Another issue, which arose during the White Plains High School versus Horace Greeley football game, on Friday night, in Chappaqua, was that the Horace Greeley Public Address Announcer kept repeating during the game, over and over again,
“Do not forget to get your Redneck Nachos from the concession stand! Get your Redneck Nachos!”
The definition of “Redneck” in the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary cites: “(often disparaging,) n-1. an uneducated white farm laborer, esp. from the South. 2. a bigot or reactionary, esp. from rural working class. – adj. 3. Also, rednecked – narrow, prejudiced or reactionary:” There are also definitions to be found in the English Learner- Miriam Webster Dictionary, English by Oxford Dictionary and Wikipedia offers insightful meaning and usage of the word.
Nevertheless, in Chappaqua, on Friday, Oct. 20, with a visiting team of predominately Afro-American football players; however you want to interpret the word, its usage was more than inappropriate and insensitive.
As a 67 year-old Afro-American Sports Journalist, I was extremely uncomfortable hearing the announcement over and over again during the game. Therefore, I can only imagine how the Afro-American players on either team felt. During the game an Afro-American coach for White Plains turned to me on the sidelines and stated angrily. “Did you hear that, you should put that in the newspaper?” I did not respond to him but the thought had already crossed my mind.
These are high school student/athletes, who are being supervised by adults. Please, in these disturbed times we are experiencing in America, let’s not let it filter to our children’s extra curricular activities.
And this has absolutely no reflection on the Horace Greeley football players, who impressed me on and off the field. After the game, one Quaker player ran from his sideline to the Tigers sideline and with the Tigers players sobbing regarding the loss, he offered a sportsmanship handshake to Tigers running back Eiizah Gordon, who was injured and being assisted to the bus.
Gordon had just played his heart out, while carrying the ball seven times for 154 yards and stifled the Quakers’ receivers at cornerback on defense. The Greeley player stated to Gordon, who wears number seven. ”Hey Number 7, I just want to shake your hand, you have got wheels, and I respect your game!” Adults let the children play. Let the children have fun together while participating in good-hearted competitive sports in a wholesome environment. Leave your socially bias innuendoes at home.