The 43rd edition of the Turkey Bowl will have to wait.
The annual Thanksgiving Day game between White Plains and Stepinac has been officially canceled this year, according to White Plains superintendent Timothy Connors.
Connors said he spoke to Section 1 executive director Jennifer Simmons today and she explained the rule that would prevent White Plains from playing Stepinac.
Teams in the NYSPHSAA are only permitted to play a maximum of nine games unless they reach their sectional final, according to Connors. Although some, in an effort to save the game, had hoped to interpret the rule differently, the 10th game can only be reserved for a sectional final. (Teams are also able to exceed that number to participate in the state playoffs and can play as many as 13 games.)
“That’s the rule and we’re going to abide by that interpretation,” Connors said.
As it has in the past, White Plains took a bye during the regular season to reserve a game for the Turkey Bowl. But with the Tigers’ win in Saturday’s Class AA semifinal at John Jay-East Fishkill, they advanced to the sectional final for the first time in 20 years.
This Saturday’s Class AA championship against North Rockland will be the team’s ninth game, meaning it will have met the state’s maximum allotment.
“The Thanksgiving Day game has always been a great day in the community and we hope it is again in the future,” Connors said. “But I hope this year that everybody in our community gets behind our kids and our coaches and roots for them to go as far as they can.”
Here is the pertinent portion of the rule from the latest New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) handbook:
A contestant (or team) may participate in no more than 9 interschool football contests, inclusive of sectional championships. The 9th game is permitted, with section approval, for teams who do not qualify for sectional play. For the teams involved in the sectional tournament, the maximum number of contests shall be 10. For those sections involved in the state championship three additional games are permitted for a total of 13 games for the season: 1 game for regionals, 1 game for semifinals, and 1 game for championships.