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Darien-New Canaan May Lose Big Rivalry Football Game On Thanksgiving

Traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games such as the Darien-New Canaan Turkey Bowl may be moved to make way for the FCIAC Championship game.
Traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games such as the Darien-New Canaan Turkey Bowl may be moved to make way for the FCIAC Championship game. Photo Credit: Daily Voice file photo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The traditional Thanksgiving Day rivalry games between Fairfield County high school football teams could be a thing of the past after changes to the Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference schedule.

The FCIAC announced the changes last week to its league schedule for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, ruling that all 17 member schools will play nine regular season games and be divided into two divisions. The winners of each division will play each other in the FCIAC Championship on Thanksgiving, where traditionally rival schools have gone head-to-head in popular annual match-ups. The rivalry games will now be played the weekend before Thanksgiving.

The decision has an impact on schools all over Fairfield County that hold their annual Turkey Day rivalry games. It has become tradition for students, alumni and community members to join together for match-ups between rivals Darien vs. New Canaan, Staples vs. Greenwich, Brien McMahon vs. Norwalk, Ridgefield vs. Danbury, Wilton vs. Trinity Catholic, Bridgeport Central vs. Harding, Fairfield Ludlowe vs. Fairfield Warde, Westhill vs. Stamford, and St. Joseph vs. Trumbull.

A group of parents have launched a petition calling for the Thanksgiving games to be reinstated. As of May 7, the petition has 465 signatures.

“The move benefits only the two schools that qualify for the Championship Game and deprives more than 1,000 student athletes across 15 schools of the thrill of playing in their Thanksgiving rivalry game,” the petition says. “In addition, our communities would lose a cherished tradition that brings together families and alumni on Thanksgiving morning.”

In a letter to the Darien community, Coach Rob Trifone said he was proposing that the FCIAC drop the championship game and let the traditional rivalry games be restored to Thanksgiving. Many other coaches in the league favor of this position, he said.

“By moving the game to the previous Saturday most alumni (college age and beyond) will not have the chance to attend the game as most return home and visit the area Thanksgiving weekend,” Trifone said. “Our players stand a chance of not competing in a game they’ve looked forward to all their lives. While the Darien-New Canaan and other rivalry games will still be held, not playing it on Thanksgiving means it loses much of its buildup.”

Trifone said that principals from all schools in the FCIAC, who have final say in the matter, will meet May 12 to review the decision and vote.

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