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West, Central embrace Turkey Bowl rivalry

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 22. 2017 1:15AM
Manchester West's Jaymeson Maheux carries the ball during regular-season acton against ConVal. Maheux and the Blue Knights battle Manchester Central in the annual Turkey Bowl tomorrow morning at Gill Stadium. ? ??? (THOMAS ROY/?UNION LEADER file)
Turkey Bowl history
Since 1981, when Manchester adopted its Turkey Bowl format for determining the city high school football champion, Central has been the most frequent participant in the title game. A year-by-year glance:

2016: Central 48, Trinity 8

2015: Central 30, Trinity 22

2014: Memorial 41, Central 14

2013: Trinity 52, Central 8

2012: Trinity 27, Central 21

2011: Central 37, Trinity 26

2010: Central 7, Trinity 6

2009: Central 27, Memorial 7

2008: Central 47, Memorial 6

2007: West 19, Central 13

2006: Central 31, West 15

2005: West 13, Central 0

2004: Central 32, Memorial 12

2003: Central 26, Memorial 7*

2002: Central 20, West 7

2001: Central 56, West 14

2000: Central 31, West 6

1999: Central 19, Memorial 14

1998: Central 14, West 6

1997: Trinity 13, Central 12

1996: Central 50, Memorial 14

1995: Central 33, West 6

1994: Central 15, West 8

1993: West 14, Central 10

1992: West 34, Central 19

1991: Trinity 28, Memorial 16

1990: Trinity 27, West 16

1989: West 31, Trinity 6

1988: West 16, Trinity 10

1987: Central 28, West 6

1986: Trinity 12, Central 0

1985: Central 7, Trinity 0

1984: Trinity 28, Central 0

1983: Trinity 40, Central 11

1982: Trinity 21, Central 19

1981: Trinity 9, Central 6

*– Game played at West Memorial Field; all others at Gill Stadium

Manchester West head coach Tom Bozoian and Manchester Central head coach Ryan Ray took a similar approach when it came to preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving Day game. They both looked at it as the end of this season, but as the start of the 2018 season as well.

“We got our work in, but we tried to keep it loose so our seniors can have fun one last time,” Ray said. “We take a look at the younger kids in different spots and they get more reps in practice.

“I like playing on Thanksgiving because it gets the kids one more football game, and you have a pretty good idea when your season is going to end. The end comes quickly for everyone else except the state champions. It’s basically a good experience for everyone.”

West and Central will punctuate their seasons when they meet Thursday at Gill Stadium (10 a.m.).

“It was a chance to practice an extra three weeks,” said Bozoian, who is in his first season as West’s head coach. “I think we’ll have greater participation in the weight room this winter because there’s been no break in lifting. The difference between us now and where we want to be is commitment and strength.

“This is another step in our rebuilding process — that’s exactly how we looked at it.”

Central (5-4) missed out on the Division I playoffs when it lost to Bedford during the regular season’s final weekend. Running back Jeremyah Rivera suffered a broken ankle in that game and will not play Thursday.

West (1-7), a Division II program, is playing for the city championship for the first time since 2007, when it beat Central 19-13. The Blue Knights and Little Green have faced each other on Thanksgiving 12 times and Central has won eight of those meetings.

“I have zero kids with a lack of interest in this game,” Bozoian said. “They’re super-excited to play. It’s been a long time since this program got an attention from something like this. For Central, it may not be a big deal, but for our kids it’s a huge deal.”

Central quarterback Alex Hawkom and West running back Jaymeson Maheux are among the players to watch Thursday. Hawkom has passed for 27 touchdowns this season. Maheux has run for 1,209 yards and 10 touchdowns on 176 carries. Paul Grossweiler leads West with 42.5 tackles.

The Central/West matchup is one of three high school games in the state this week. Nashua North will play Nashua South tonight (6) at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium, and Monadnock of Swanzey will play at Keene tomorrow (10 a.m.).

“We talked as a staff about not playing in the game, but we quickly realized that (playing) was what was best for our program,” Bozoian said. “No matter what the final score says, we feel like we’ve already won.”

NHIAA Manchester