Since the state began tournament games for football, Thanksgiving Day aside from giving thanks has a large void without going to see Laurel and Seaford bang heads before crowds of 3500 and up.
Game day on Turkey Day was a homecoming of sorts. Because of the long week-end holiday alumni and family used the game as kinda of a reunion. Before the days of bleachers people brought ladders and peach or apple baskets to stand above the crowd.
Before I could play football, before the game mom always had her turkey cooked before noon. My uncle Tony who lived in Wilmington would bring fresh baked Italian rolls, about 4 inches long. I would get some of mom’s turkey, her dressing, and cranberry and make a great sandwich, sometimes two. Then off to the game. Even when I played, against the wishes of my coach, I had a sandwich. Didn’t make much difference, I warmed the bench.
According to Seaford’s Jim Bowden, official county historian, the rivalry started over 94 years ago, 121 games have been played, with Seaford winning 67 and Laurel 44 with 10 ties. Between 1920 and 1948 both teams met twice during the season.
You could have a losing season, but winning the annual Turkey Classic was like winning the Super Bowl. That gave you bragging rights, for years, for some of the players that’s the only game they remember.
The rivalry was as intense between two great coaches, Robert Dowd and George Schollenberger. Both had a special play or two for that game.
I used two think those two hated each other as did the players from each team until I visited Schollenberger at his home while I was sports editor for the State Register. Lord and behold he was working in his prized garden and along side of him was coach Dowd. They were both avid gardeners and best of friends!
Since the start of the tournaments both schools has had their ups and downs with the Blue Jays having the most difficult fielding a winning team. Laurel has won the last 10 of their clashes. After floundering for several years, the Bulldogs have fielded a championship team behind Glenn Phillips and are headed for the playoffs this Saturday.
Good luck to the Bulldogs for bringing back the Bulldog Pride to Laurel!!!