High school football fans stuff Memorial Stadium Tradition: The Thanksgiving Loyola-Calvert Hall game is played on 33rd Street for the last time.

November 28, 1997|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Terry Smith sat in enemy territory yesterday and tried to make the best of it.

With only a red turtleneck as evidence of his loyalty to Calvert Hall's football team, Smith sat in a sea of blue and gold at Memorial Stadium surrounded by Loyola High School fans and most of his family.

"What can you do?" said Smith, a 1969 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School who came with his children and his brothers' families.

"I have three younger brothers who all went to Loyola, and we all sit together every year."

School spirit was the main course for the 78th annual Thanksgiving Day football game between the Calvert Hall Cardinals and the Loyola Dons at the stadium.

The game marked the last time the rivals -- or any high school football teams -- are expected to face off at Memorial Stadium. The Ravens are scheduled to move to their new stadium next year.

"This is the end of an era of our game at Memorial Stadium," said John Stewart, dean of students at Loyola.

More than 15,000 students, alumni and fans showed up yesterday to cheer their teams on to victory, which was claimed by the Loyola Dons, 19-7.

The game is a tradition that has spanned several generations, and Pete Daub, 17, a senior at Loyola, said hedoesn't plan to ever miss a game.

"School pride means a lot to me, and there is a lot of it here," said Daub, whose blue-and-gold-painted face, gold bandanna and blue T-shirt with gold letters spelling out "Beat The Hall" left no question as to his loyalty.

"We have so much fun and the game is a blast."

Joseph Speros, a captain with the Washington Fire Department, said all thoughts of turkey had been pushed from his mind until after the game.

Speros, who has been going to the games since he was a freshman at Calvert Hall in 1965, said he went yesterday to offer support to the team and his 18-year-old son, Michael, who is a senior at Calvert Hall and a cheerleader.

"The game is a good time for the old guys to come and check out the young bloods," Speros said. "It's just a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving."

Baltimore Municipal Stadium opened on Dec. 2, 1922, where Memorial Stadium now stands.

Over the years, the stadium was the site of sporting and religious events, political rallies and concerts before it was christened Memorial Stadium in 1954.

For years, fans could get a full day of football with the Loyola-Calvert Hall game played in the morning and the City-Poly game played in the afternoon.

Baltimore City College and Polytechnic Institute high schools stopped playing on Thanksgiving Day in 1993, but the Cardinals and the Dons continued to meet on the field every fourth Thursday of November.

"This tradition is very important to the students, and the alumni love this game," said Brother Kevin Strong, president of Calvert Hall.

"You can feel the energy."

Both sides roared as No. 1-ranked Loyola and No. 2-ranked Calvert Hall took to the field. As Calvert Hall's band played "Proud Mary," a group of fans dressed in the red and gold school colors danced to the beat and cheered.

On Loyola's side, Daub played his trumpet as his classmates clapped and chanted, "Defense." Loyola alumnus Tom Del Bene sat with his family and former classmates and lamented the loss of his prized seat.

For years, Del Bene and his buddies have sat behind the end zone, in an area that stadium officials had roped off for security reasons.

"That's Loyola sacred ground," said Del Bene, a 39-year-old landscaper who graduated in 1976. "But I wouldn't miss this game for anything in the world. All of my family is here, and practically my whole graduating class shows up."

Former players watched from the sidelines and relived old games. As the assistant director of facilities for the Ravens, Jobie Waldt had to work, but that didn't stop the Calvert Hall alumnus from taking a break to catch the action.

Watching the last game, Waldt said, was bittersweet.

"I'm going to miss it, having played here and worked here," said Waldt, who was the quarterback for Calvert's last undefeated team, in 1979.

"It's going to be sad not to come to this game here next year."

School officials said they have a commitment from stadium officials that they will be able to play next year in the new stadium.

Chris Mitchell, 18 and a senior at Calvert Hall, said he hoped the change would help his team, which suffered its ninth consecutive loss to Loyola yesterday.

"Maybe going to a new stadium, we'll do better next year," Mitchell said.

"We are going to try not to make it 10 in a row."

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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