HARTFORD -- Thanksgiving high school football tradition is being thrown to the sidelines this year because of the frigid forecast.
Nearly two dozen games scheduled for Thursday have been bumped up to Wednesday or pushed back to Friday because of wind chill expected to be hovering around zero degrees near kickoff time.
The bottom line: tradition means something, but the safety of student-athletes and fans means everything.
"A week ago, the weather for Thursday was going to be 40 and sunny and, all of a sudden, it became 20's, teens," said Steve Trifone, the Athletic Director for Cheshire High School.
For only the second time in the 23 years of the Cheshire-Southington Apple Valley Classic, the game will be played on the night before Thanksgivng.
"When your colleagues start calling for the coldest Thanksgiving ever and below zero wind chills, we started thinking what are our options," said Greg Ferry, the Southington AD and Cheshire alum.
The two athletic directors said they were on the phone beginning a 5 a.m. Tuesday.
At about 9 o’clock this morning, we decided it was probably best to make the change," said Trifone.
Kickoff now is scheduled to 6 p.m. Wednesday instead of 10 a.m. Thursday at Southington High School. And both athletic directors say it’s not as simple as picking up the phone and changing the date and time of the game.
"Getting police coverage, ambulance coverage, contacting the official, the in-game workers, our marching band, our cheerleaders, our dance team," said Ferry.
"At the end of August, we were talking about it’s too hot to play football and now in mid-November we're talking about it’s too cold to play football," said Glenn Lungarini the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS-CIAC).
Lungarini heads the organization that governs high school sports in Connecticut.
"We do have a lot of very good competitive Thanksgiving games on the schedule. So, whether they are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, we hope they get some good attendance at those games," Lungarini said.
"At the end of the day, I can rest easily tonight knowing we made the right decision," said Ferry.
This game will serve as a tune up for the playoffs for Southington.
Wallingford's Carini Bowl, between Sheehan and Lyman Hall, will kick off as scheduled, at 10:30 Thanksgiving morning.
Sheehan High School's Principal emailed the following notice to school families Tuesday:
Good afternoon MTS Parents
This year’s Carini Bowl between Lyman Hall and Sheehan will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning at Lyman Hall High School. With the incoming cold weather, we have taken precautions to ensure the safety of our student athletes. Each sideline will have two heaters operating for the entire game. We have been in communication with the Wallingford Fire Department and the Fire Marshall to ensure all appropriate safety measures will be taken while the heaters are in use. The school bands will not be performing at the game and the cheerleaders will have the option to attend or not. For the cheerleaders who choose to attend, they will have access to the same heaters located on the sidelines. The gymnasium will also be open for any spectators who need relief from the cold weather. We are looking forward to another amazing game this Thursday!
Principal, Mark T. Sheehan High School
Click here for the latest game times.