The 2008 Turkey Bowl honorees were Richard M. Gardella (left) and Rev. Thomas Collins. They were joined during a pregame ceremony by Tigers Fan Committee Chairman Anthony J. Marano, M.D. (center).
Photo credit: Albert Coqueran
Three’s a Charm
Stepinac Defeats WPHS to Capture Third Straight Turkey Bowl
By: Albert Coqueran
Published: December 04, 2008
White Plains High School Head Football Coach Skip Stevens sat in his field house office, obviously dejected, after the conclusion of the 2008 Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving afternoon. Archbishop Stepinac High School had just defeated the Tigers, 29-14, in the 38th annual showdown. It marked the third consecutive year that the Crusaders beat the Tigers in the traditional City of White Plains rival football game, although the game was more competitive than the final score suggests.
“It is disappointing, and I take it very, very hard,” Stevens said, noting this marks the first time Stepinac has earned bragging rights for three straight years.
The Turkey Bowl is a major part of the kickoff of the holiday season in White Plains and a matter of city pride between the two local high school rivals. This year’s game also marked the first time the game was held at a venue other than Parker Stadium at the Highlands Middle School. A capacity crowd of approximately 3,500 gathered at Glenn D. Loucks Stadium at White Plains High School to watch the game from the new site.
“We were very sensitive about moving the game,” Superintendent of Schools Tim Connors said. “The School Board wanted it, the community wanted it, and some of the old-timers (former players) that loved to have the game at Highlands agreed that because of the size of the stands, Loucks Field was a better setting.”
The first quarter of the Turkey Bowl was a fierce defensive battle, with neither team scoring. However, Crusaders’ running back Maurice “Moe” Easterling broke the game open in the second quarter with two touchdowns, a one-yard run at 10:51 and a six-yard run at 6:03. “I thank my offensive line for blocking,” Easterling said after the game. “After that, I just did my reads and ran.” Easterling, who will be attending preparatory school for his senior year next year, came up big in his last game as a Crusader.
The Crusaders went into the locker room ahead 17-7 at halftime, after Tigers’ running back Peter Idowa scored on a one-yard run with 21 seconds left in the half. With no time remaining, Stepinac kicker James Mullen nailed a 21-yard field goal to end the half.
The Tigers bounced back in the third quarter, when quarterback James Bryant hit tight end James Briggs for an 80-yard pass play. Then Bryant decided to sneak the ball over the goal line himself to close the gap to 17-14.
But then once again, the Crusaders went to Easterling, who scored his third touchdown of the game with a minute left in the third quarter. Fullback John Fuschetto put the game away for the Crusaders, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left in the game.
Crusaders’ Head Coach Mike O’Donnell noted that in addition to Easterling, 19 seniors were playing their last high school game. “I thought it was important that they went out as winners,” the proud coach said.
The 2008 Turkey Bowl B.T Lauer Sportsmanship Awards were presented to Ryan Hunt of Stepinac and Bryant from WPHS. This year’s Turkey Bowl Honorees were 1953 WPHS alumnus Richard M. Gardella, who dedicated his award to his late mother Elvera—a 1926 graduate of WPHS—and Stepinac’s vice principal of student life, Rev. Thomas Collins.