Turkey Day cancellation: Player reaction


Morgan Hooker

A tradition dating back over a century, the annual Turkey Day game is an event that brings together the Kirkwood and Webster Groves communities.

Kirkwood football defeated the Eureka Wildcats  28-17 in their final game of the season on Oct. 23. That win made the Pioneers 2-1 on the season and secured the second seed in the district playoffs. The first playoff game was scheduled for Oct. 30 against St. Louis University High School (SLUH).  The game against SLUH, however, was recorded as a forfeit, after an individual within the KHS varsity football program tested positive for COVID-19. Players in close proximity to that person were contacted by KSD and directed to quarantine until Nov. 13. This forfeiture would not affect the annual Turkey Day football game. As the Turkey Day game was still scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 26 at Webster, provided there would be no more positive COVID-19 tests. After a game against Mehlville High School on Nov. 6 however, an individual within the WGHS varsity football program tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the positive test and the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County area, both Webster Groves and KHS agreed to cancel the 112th varsity matchup in a press release on Friday, Nov. 13th. 


“I was very hopeful that the game was gonna be played,”Asher Weinberg, defensive tackle, said. “ I knew it wasn’t guaranteed, but I was really hopeful because Webster had just played the week before and we were just coming out of our two week quarantine. I wasn’t just looking forward to playing, but also practicing. I wanted to make those the most fun practices I’ve ever had in my high school career in order to make memories and truly enjoy the moment.”

In that moment it was like one of those times you remember exactly where you are and exactly what is going on,” Weinberg said. “It was one of those moments in your life where you were really looking forward to something and it just got taken away from you.”

— Asher Weinberg

According to Weinberg and several other teammates, the cancellation of the game was expected by the players after the forfeit to SLUH two week prior. The players were told to join a Zoom around 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, where head varsity football coach, Farrell Shelton, delivered the news.


A tradition dating back over a century, the annual Turkey Day game is an event that brings together the Kirkwood and Webster Groves communities.  Many of the players who were set to participate in this year’s Turkey Day game had been a part of the tradition long before playing football at KHS.


“My mom always hosts a big party the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to get ready for the big Turkey Day game,” Tucker Bass, senior defensive end, said. “On Thanksgiving we would go to the game and it was a super big deal in my family. My uncle played Turkey Day and he always talks about how big of a game it was.  Alumni don’t care who far you went in the playoffs — they want to know if you beat Webster that year.”


The game became a tradition in many Kirkwood football players’ households after joining the football team in high school, according to Nate Jones, senior. Jones has played in the last two Turkey Day games and said it has completely changed how his family operates around Thanksgiving. Since Jones entered high school, his family has hosted Thanksgiving dinner every year so that their whole family is in town for Turkey Day.


“Our family really looks forward to it because we have family coming in from out of town that usually don’t get to come and watch me play.” Jones said. “The atmosphere is really fun at the game, so it was really disappointing that they couldn’t experience that [again this year].” 


The underclassmen expressed their sadness for the cancellation of the game, especially Louis Kavanaugh, junior, saying that he had already met with the rest of his junior teammates to discuss next year’s Turkey Day game. According to Kavanaugh, the class of 2022 plans to learn from this year’s football seasons and appreciate every moment they get out on the field next year.  


“Turkey Day probably has the biggest high school football crowd in Missouri,” said Kavanaugh. “I think it would be surreal to one day start in that game and experience the atmosphere.”


As for the current seniors, they are all in agreement about the advice they would give to the classes below them, according to Weinberg, Bass and Jones: Go out there and play like every play could be your last, because this year they weren’t able to appreciate their last snaps out on the field. 


“Kirkwood is one of the only teams that wear their community on their jersey,” said Weinberg “It doesn’t say ‘Pioneers,’ it says Kirkwood, and you have to realize you’re playing for your community. That’s really what the Turkey Day game is about. For the underclassmen, play for your community and play for the guys who couldn’t this year.”