LOWER MAKEFIELD >> A group of neighborhood kids couldn’t let the Thanksgiving holiday go by without playing a Turkey Bowl game, a Pennsbury eighth grade tradition
So on Saturday, more than 20 eighth graders, many of them from the Yardley Hunt development, hit the field at the Edgewood Elementary School for a traditional pre-holiday game of tag football.
With the pigskin flying through the air, the kids had a blast rushing down the field, passing the football, jockeying for position and going for the touchdown.
The game continued for a little more than an hour with the orange team, in the end, pulling off the win by one touchdown with a final score of 49 to 46.
Although no one was really keeping score. This was about having fun, socializing and creating memories, so many of which had been stolen from them in 2020 by the pandemic.
“A lot of these guys live in the same neighborhood and they were missing out on their Turkey Bowl, which they usually do at school prior to Thanksgiving,” said parent John Ricciardi, who helped the kids organize the game. “We sent a note out to parents saying, ‘Listen. They’re missing out. How about we throw an impromptu flag football game?’
“It took off from there,” he said.
His daughter recruited a few high school football players to referee the game. She also drafted a group of cheerleaders to provide a COVID-19 socially-distance cheering section in the absence of spectators.
“We had the mascot show up. We had some snacks. The whole goal was to give the kids something to do and to keep a tradition alive,” he said.
It was a blast from the past for Ricciardi.
“This is like the 1950s and 1969s all over again. They showed up, picked teams and they played a game,” he said.
“When the pandemic hit and everyone was on lockdown, the some of the neighborhood kids started riding their bikes together. And there was a group of boys who started playing whiffle ball, football and basketball in their backyards just like I remember from decades ago,” said Ricciardi.
“Every day after school they get together and do this,” he said. “They have their own leagues. They draft and have their own schedules and a Super Bowl and a World Series. When one season is over they move to the next sport. It’s like what we did when we were kids before cell phones and social media.”
So what did he think of the game?
“I thought it was great. Everyone got involved. The boys and girls spread the football around really well. There were no fights. No one ran off the field crying. And there was no pushing or shoving. So I’d say it was a great success,” said Ricciardi.
“The energy level out there was off the charts,” said dad Nick Primola who braved the action on the field to document the game with his camera. “For many of these guys, this is the first time they’ve been together in months. And it was obvious that they haven’t missed a beat.
“And the game was great,” he added. “There was no defense. But if you love offensive football this was the game to watch.”