Raise money for a good cause? Check.
Seize an opportunity to play full-contact football on the Memorial Stadium turf again? Check.
Talk a little good-natured smack with old rivals? Check.
Beat those rivals in an actual game? Both sides hope that will become a “check.”
Avoid serious injury? That “check” won’t be determined until Saturday morning.
Organizers of the inaugural Show-Me’s Alumni Turkey Bowl pitting former players from Terre Haute North and South high schools against each other think these goals are attainable when the game takes place tonight.
Please note that the start time has been changed to 6 p.m., one hour earlier than what was previously advertised. Adult admission is $10 and tickets can be purchased at the door, while children 6 and under will get in free. The Memorial Stadium ticket office will open at 4:30 p.m.
Proceeds go to the football programs at both high schools and the Vigo County Youth Football League.
Coaching these squads are Wayne Stahley for North and Mel Burks (with help from Brian Cottee) for South.
Before retiring in 2001, Stahley coached the real North teams for 21 seasons.
“It has been a real honor working with these alumni players and coaches,” game director Mike King told the Tribune-Star. “Their dedication to this game and to each other has been overwhelming.”
King said the game will be dedicated to the memory of former South player Dale Griffin, who was killed while serving the United States as a soldier in Afghanistan last year. The Griffin family will represent South during the pregame coin toss.
Most of tonight’s players graduated from high school between 1996 and 2005, although each team was allowed to include four “ringers” who graduated earlier. Cottee, who left South in 1992, is one of the Braves’ ringers.
Stahley thinks he’ll have roughly 38 players to utilize, while Burks and Cottee can choose from about 50 players. Starting quarterbacks are likely to be Kyle Toney for South and J.C. Thomas or Pat Hawkins for North.
“It’s hard to put a passing game together in 10 days [of practice],” Stahley admitted. “That’s true for both teams.”
“I think we’re going to try to run some power plays and isos,” Burks said. “We’re also going to try some passing plays from the traditional tree of routes … and stretch the field a little bit if we can.”
Bodybuilding brothers John and Jim Roshel from South’s teams in the late 1980s are slated to play — John at outside linebacker and Jim at fullback and noseguard. “Both of those guys look like they’re chiseled out of stone,” Burks mentioned.
North should own the kicking advantage with Kent Baker coming back to handle the punting/placekicking duties.
Meanwhile, Stahley thinks fans will see an effective defense from the Patriots. “We’ve got some guys who can still move,” he stressed.
The conditioning edge could go to the Braves because they’ll have more players, which could become a factor in the second half.
“They’re not in the shape we would like them to be in,” Burks assessed, “but they’re in pretty good shape.
“Individually, when they first came to practice, some were in better shape than others. But the 10 [non-contact and contact] practices helped improve them collectively as a team.”
As for the smack talk, a little will be OK, but Stahley said game officials will not tolerate too much “mouthing off.”
“I came back to this to have fun and see some kids [who are now adults],” Stahley explained. “We don’t need too much trash talking for this game.”
Although there is a desire for good sportsmanship, don’t expect these alumni players to forget this is a North-South game.
“Any time you have a North-South game … they’re wanting to outdo each other,” Burks pointed out. “I appreciate the North players coming back as well as South’s because this can be a big boost to our community.”
“I just want to keep everybody healthy and make it a class act,” Stahley said. “We’ll see it how it goes. Who knows, maybe we’ll continue to do this in the future.”
• Turkey Bowl notes — First Financial Bank and Ivy Tech teamed up to provide tickets to more than 700 Vigo County Youth Football players. In addition, fourth- and fifth-grade youth players will be honored during pregame ceremonies, while sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade players will be honored at halftime.
• Union Hospital and Union Sports Medicine are providing trainers for the game. Union Sports Medicine also provided trainers for all contact practices for both teams.
• A pair of former coaches will oversee the officiating crew for the Turkey Bowl.
Dan McGrath, former head coach at South, will serve as referee and former North assistant Chuck Lindner will be the umpire.
The seven-man officiating squad represents four different crews that work high school football games around the Wabash Valley and collectively have compiled more than 75 years of officiating experience.
“A lot of these guys have played college and some have played professional football, so we've decided to go with a seven-man crew as opposed to the usual five-man crew,” McGrath said. “We're all really looking forward to this game and I think we're going to see some great talent on the field.”
Also officiating tonight will be Ace Hunt, head linesman; Steve Morris, line judge; Bernie Cook, back judge; Derek Carroll, back judge; and Mike Stoffers, back judge.
n Burks said players on his alumni team are talking about donating their own money to the current South football program.
“They’re reconnecting with the school,” Burks noted. “This should energize the current players.”
• King said players from both teams purchased their own jerseys, which have last names on the back.
“These guys are really serious,” Burks emphasized. “I have a lot of respect for them.”
• North will be represented by Bryan Stallings (class of 1972) during the pregame coin toss. Stallings scored the first touchdown in the first North-South game in the fall of ‘71. He’ll have two sons playing in tonight’s game — Julius for North and Bryan Jr. for South.
A few Turkey Bowl players
Terre Haute South
(does not include everyone)
OG — Andy Dunford, the school’s 1996 and 1997 Offensive MVP.
RB — Audie Spencer, who had 126 yards rushing and one touchdown in 1992 North-South game.
OL/DT — Bryan Stallings, Arena Football League veteran.
OL — “Big Frank” Smith, another Arena Football League veteran.
DB/LB — D.J. Yarborough, who returned an interception for a TD in 1998 North-South game.
RB — Brian Cottee, who had 108 yards rushing and two TDs in South's 1991 win over North.
DB — Tom Haley, Class of 1979 member who played in three consecutive wins over North.
WR — Kris Nasser, who set school record with 10 catches for 133 yards in 1996 North-South game.
QB — Kyle Toney, South’s starting quarterback in 2003 and 2004.
WR — David Lewis, former standout wide receiver.
LB — John Roshel, former standout defensive player from Class of 1987 and current Terre Haute dentist.
Other notables — Larry Hatfield, Maynard Lewis and Bryan McGrone.
Head coach — Mel Burks, who coached many of these players when they were part of Vigo County Youth Football.
Terre Haute North
(does not include everyone)
TB — Ben Tompkins, the school’s all-time single-season rushing leader.
P/PK — Kent Baker, North’s all-time leading punter.
TB — Butch Auler, North’s 1989 Offensive Player of Year.
NT — Ryan Carter, semi-pro standout.
WR — Johnny Bruce, semi-pro standout.
OL/DL — Jarred Kleptz, who recovered a fumble and scored the game-winning TD in 2002 North-South game.
DE — Ryan Ralston, former North and Indiana State standout.
QB — J.C. Thomas, former North and Carroll College standout.
DE — Dominic Rollins, who recorded 10 tackles in 2000 North-South game.
LB — Daniel Smith, semi-pro standout.
FB — Jon Tarrh, semi-pro standout.
DB — Scott Lindner, former North and North Central College standout.
RB — J.J. Stepter, who had three TDs, including an 80-yard kickoff return, in 1994 North-South game.
Other notables — Mike Daley, Kyle Dean, Bill Berry and Ethan Tyler.
Head coach — Wayne Stahley, winningest football coach in North history.
Names provided by Mike and Nicole King.