No matter what's at stake, Calvert Hall and Loyola focused on beating each other

November 24, 2010|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

When you play football for Calvert Hall or for Loyola, you certainly have your priorities in order.

Nothing means more than winning the Turkey Bowl. Not the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association AConference title. Not the No.1 ranking. Absolutely nothing.

Everyone who plays in -- or has ever played in -- the area's third-longest-running high school football rivalry knows that victory tastes a whole lot sweeter than the Thanksgiving Day feasts that will follow Thursday's 10 a.m. showdown at M&T Bank Stadium.

That's a lot to say for Calvert Hall, because the Cardinals (10-1) can sew up the A Conference championship and The Baltimore Sun's No. 1 ranking with a win. Nonetheless, those all-important bragging rights take precedence.

"We do realize that the championship is on the line and that's the ultimate goal for a season, but we want to go out and beat Loyola before anything else. I came to Calvert Hall for one reason -- to beat Loyola," senior lineman Chandler Singletary said.

The teams meet for the 91st time, behind only 122 years of City-Poly and 95 years of Gilman-McDonogh. All that time and tradition have molded the fiercest of rivalries.

Loyola, which leads the series 48-34-8, has won 20 of the past 25meetings and won six straight times from 2003 to 2008, but Calvert Hall won, 47-38, last year and that still stings the Dons.

"We were used to beating them. It was almost a given," Dons junior lineman Jordan Horne said. "Now the tables have turned, so we've got to play really hard to win. My brother [Mike Horne] played for Loyola, so I've been going to the games since sixth grade and nothing would feel better than spoiling the championship for Calvert Hall."

While Loyola won the A Conference in 2008 with its Turkey Bowl win, the Cardinals have not won a championship since 1982. A Cardinals win Thursday would give them a 4-1 conference record and would give them the title over No. 2 and defending conference champ Gilman, also 4-1, in the head-to-head tiebreaker. Calvert Hall beat Gilman, 26-21, last month.

Calvert Hall would not be in position to win the conference outright without Loyola's help. Even though the Dons (6-4) cannot win the title, they might be playing a bigger role than the winner in deciding the outcome.

Two weeks ago, Calvert Hall, Gilman and Georgetown Prep were tied with one loss each, which set up the possibility of a three-way tie or an outright title for any one of the three. But Loyola dashed the Little Hoyas' hopes with a 49-24 win Nov.13. That improved Calvert Hall's odds, because the Cardinals had lost only to the Little Hoyas.

With Georgetown Prep out of the running, it comes down to Calvert Hall or Gilman. Even though the Dons would finish 4-1 with a Turkey Bowl win, they cannot win the title, because they would be tied with Gilman, the team they lost to.

Loyola coach Brian Abbott said with only six teams in the A Conference, it's not hard to play the spoiler.

"Whenever you win a game in this league and you've already lost a game, you're being a spoiler," Abbott said. "Every year for every win in our league, you end up spoiling something for somebody. I think every team is in that boat. Last week, we had a lot of Calvert Hall fans and this week, we have a lot of Gilman fans."

If you're among the Loyola faithful, however, it would just be a lot more fun to spoil things for Calvert Hall.

"Our motto the last couple weeks has been to be stingy. If we can't have the championship, no one else can," Horne said. "We can't stop Gilman from winning it, but it would be a big deal to keep Calvert Hall from winning it. That's all we've been talking about for the past couple weeks."

Both teams have had plenty of time to prepare -- maybe a little too long for coach Donald Davis' Cardinals who haven't played since Nov. 5 -- and Turkey Bowl veterans such as Singletary and Horne can't wait to mix it up with their archrivals field in front of a raucous crowd that numbered 11,898 last year.

"A lot of guys come from the same rec programs and have the same desire inside of them," Singletary said. "Both programs have great coaches and both teams want to come out and take each other's heads off. That intensity; that's what makes it so great."

An earlier version of this article misidentified the age of the Turkey Bowl rivalry in relation to other area rivalries. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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