TERRE HAUTE —
As someone involved with the upcoming Show-Me’s Alumni Turkey Bowl told me this week, the inaugural football game pitting former players from Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North against each other could resemble a high school reunion.
You know, when the ugly girl ends up shockingly pretty and the prettiest girl shows up looking homely?
In other words, I can imagine a scenario where the best players will be those who didn’t stand out in high school, but they worked out hard as adults to transform themselves into good athletes.
For those unfamiliar with the Turkey Bowl, it will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 — one day after Thanksgiving — at Memorial Stadium.
It’s for players who graduated from North and South between 1996 and 2005, although each school is allowed four “ringers” who graduated before 1996.
Retired North coach Wayne Stahley will be guiding the old-school Patriots, while Brian Cottee and Mel Burks are serving as associate coaches for South.
Admission is $10 and tickets will be available at North and South high schools and at the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club next Monday.
Game director Mike King said 50 percent of every ticket sold will go to the school or the Boys and Girls Club “right off the top.”
In addition, Terre Haute’s First Financial Bank and Ivy Tech are sponsoring free tickets for all current Vigo County Youth Football League players who want to attend. Also, current North and South players and coaches will receive sideline passes.
As of Wednesday evening, King said 107 former players had signed up to participate, although I wouldn’t be surprised if half of North’s drop out after trying to survive one of Stahley’s grueling practices (wink).
Seriously, fans should be familiar with several of the names involved, but let’s not mention them until they demonstrate commitment for the next few weeks.
“Coaches will have final say if they have guys who want to join the teams later, so there could be some others… but I feel like we’re pretty close to maxing out the number of local guys,” King said. “To be honest, I was going to be happy if we had 80 guys who signed up.”
As expected, players will be required to show proof of insurance before the game. After all, these guys aren’t Peyton Manning or Reggie Wayne. They’ve probably been selling insurance, coaching their children or working non-athletic jobs since they graduated, so the possibility of injury exists.
“It’ll be just like a regular high school football game,” King explained. “There will be two ambulances there and there will be trainers.”
The first of six non-contact practices will start Saturday, with the first of four contact practices scheduled to start after Nov. 10.
“I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” said the 59-year-old Stahley, who works as a realtor for Century 21 and last coached football as a volunteer assistant at Rose-Hulman in 2008. “Who knows who’s going to be in shape and who’s not? Plus, some of these guys live pretty far away and can’t make very many practices… But I do think this is for a good cause.”
Stahley stressed that his practices will be mostly about learning plays.
“We’re not going to beat the heck out of them,” he promised.
Surrrrre, Wayne (double wink).
From the Braves’ perspective, Cottee — a 1992 South graduate — said he plans to be one of South’s ringers and serve as a player/coach. He mentioned that he’s 5 feet, 8 inches tall, 185 pounds (only 10 more than his playing days) and ready to avenge two losses to North in high school, although he added that South defeated the Patriots his senior year.
“You know I’m divin’ into the end zone,” Cottee predicted. “I’m gettin’ me a touchdown.”
Cottee insisted that he’s not the slightest bit worried about lining up against younger players.
“I’ve been officiating [high school and youth football] about 15 years,” he said, “so I know the majority of those kids.”
Realizing the Colts aren’t likely to call with a contract offer after the Turkey Bowl — no matter how many injuries they incur — Cottee explained why he’s going through with this.
“You only get these opportunities so often,” he noted. “I have kids now and they’ll be able to come out and watch me play… I’m honored to be a part of something like this. It’s a win-win situation for all the parties involved.”
Cottee also indicated that players will take the game seriously, even if they’re having fun.
“I’m not going out there to lose,” Cottee emphasized. “I know it’s for a good cause, but our pride is on the line. It is a North-South game.”
King hopes if all goes well, this will become an annual event with a West Vigo vs. Northview matchup being part of it in the future.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224 after 4 p.m.; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.