An odd holiday at Stellos

Stellos Stadium is a ghost town on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in the
facility’s existence.

It’s projected to be quiet place. A couple of years ago, it was bustling overnight and into Thanksgiving morning with coaches, students, volunteers and city workers trying to clean up from the heavy snow of the night before so a football game could be played.

But now that game is in the books for 2016, played Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve.

It feels odd, doesn’t it? Fans got a taste of change, but for the participants, and even yours truly, the altering of tradition by staying home Thanksgiving morning is taking some getting used to.

"It’s going to be strange," Nashua coach Scott Knight said earlier in the week about not playing on Thursday morning. "I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since I was in college. It’s been a long, long time. It’s weird."

A few traditions had to be scrapped for Thursday. After the Turkey Bowl game, Knight usually collected the equipment right away and would get a truck to transport it back to South. Now with the game having been played Wednesday night, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.

And the coaches usually would get together, both the North and South staffs, at a local eatery for an early morning breakfast before getting with their respective teams and heading to Stellos.

"Maybe we’ll go for lunch or something," North coach Dante Laurendi said. "It is going to be nice not having to get up at 5 in the morning. And I can possibly start eating my turkey a little earlier."

There’s been change before. It will take some getting used to. For yours truly, it’ll only be the second Thanksgiving not rushing out to a game since 1986. Perhaps some in the area who do want a game to go to will head to Manchester’s Gill Stadium for that city’s contest.

No harm in trying something new, though. It gives people a true chance to enjoy the holiday from the start. Maybe the idea will stick, maybe it won’t. If it does, there are whispers Bishop Guertin would like to find an opponent for Thanksgiving morning – Windham? – but you hear those all the time.

In any event, the holiday will be celebrated in the truest sense. Players and their families are now free to travel out of town for the day. Coaches can have a longer cooling off period if the game didn’t go as planned.

"It is a fun game, but you still don’t want to lose," Laurendi said. "I guess the turkey always tastes better when you win, and I’m sure we as coaches aren’t the most enjoyable to be around after a loss."

Now don’t get the coaches wrong. Laurendi and Knight were the ones who in talking came up with the idea for the change. It’s not that they disrespected the Turkey tradition, but they saw a need to spice the game up a little bit.

"It’s going to be weird," Knight said again. "I’m going to wake up Thanksgiving morning and it’s going to be different."

Indeed it will. It’s Thanksgiving, Stellos is an empty, quiet stadium, with all the excitement the previous evening.

Good or bad, it will still be a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or @Telegraph_TomK.