Turkey Bowl brings ‘youngs’ and ‘olds’ together again

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Turkey Bowl 2022 pit younger RCS grads versus older players in the annual tradition at Mosher Park. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA — Before the first course was served on Thanksgiving, the community gathered Thursday for Turkey Bowl 2022 at Mosher Park.

The just-for-fun competition between the “youngs” and “olds” brings together former RCS football players, athletes and others to go head-to-head.

“This is a tradition we do every year,” said Jeremy Putorti, a graduate of the RCS Class of 2006. “As soon as I was 17 or 18, I started to play here. Everyone comes out on Thanksgiving morning and we all say thanks to each other, we hug each other and it’s just a great tradition. We usually play until we get tired, the ‘old guys,’ but we all come out and play and it’s a great time.”

The rules to play in the Turkey Bowl are pretty lax. You just have to be out of high school and willing to have a good time.

“It used to be ages 25 and younger play 25 and older,” Putorti said. “Now we are lacking in people, so we try to see what ages show up. Last year I think it was 28 and above against 28 and younger. It’s not strict but most are former RCS football players or other athletes. We do make some exceptions for people who didn’t go to RCS but are friends of RCS grads.”

William Stewart — who went to Albany High in his school days — is one of those exceptions and played in his first Turkey Bowl on Thursday. He came into the game by happenstance.

“I was down at Jordan’s Barbershop and they were talking about this and I asked if they let people 50 and over play,” Stewart said. “They said yeah so I thought about it and decided to come down and play.”

Players went head-to-head in a just-for-fun game on Thanksgiving. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Keith Geraldsen, on the other hand, has played in the annual game for years.

“I have been playing this for at least 25 years,” Geraldsen said. “Friends of mine started playing when we were young and it just escalated from there. Now it’s the next generation — I am playing with my son now.”

The game, as far as Geraldsen knows, has been going on in Ravena for 40 years or more.

“We love the game and love meeting everyone on Thanksgiving. It’s always a great gathering,” he said. “I love it — it’s nice to see everyone and to see the next generation, players who are now bringing their kids to play. It’s just awesome.”

His son, Keith Geraldsen Jr., joined his father on the makeshift football field.

“I started at 18 after I graduated and I’m 34 now,” Geraldsen Jr. said. “I play because my dad plays — we love it, it’s amazing. It’s great to see everybody, especially since a lot of people have moved away, but here we get to all be together at one time and see everyone.”

Evan Bullis, a graduate with the RCS Class of 2009, was on the Indians football team during his high school days.

“This is basically a football reunion every year,” Bullis said. “It’s the one time you can count on seeing everybody and it’s a lot of fun.”

With family and friends cheering from the sidelines, there were no helmets and no pads, just a bunch of guys having fun.

Michael Allen, the new president of Ravena Pop Warner who played semi-professional football with the Albany Metro Mallers, said the event is good for the community and gets the blood pumping, especially for the so-called “old guys.”

“We are older but we are still trying to be young at heart — that is the most important thing,” Allen said with a smile. “I think the community needs this. The people need to rally around each other. It’s about camaraderie and brotherhood, and the young kids get to see the old boys play.”

The players may not be on an official team anymore, but the Turkey Bowl definitely got the adrenaline pumping. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media
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