H.D. Woodson's 16-12 win over Ballou for D.C.’s public school title was one of the best Turkey Bowls in recent memory, and it was particularly special for Mayor Vincent Gray.
The Turkey Bowl has been played 45 times, and Gray has been to most of them – first as a student-athlete, then as a parent and for the past 10 years as an elected official.
“It’s a real honor,” Gray said. “I’m a product of D.C. Public Schools. It’s just an honor to be part of such a great experience for our young people.”
Council member Yvette Alexander, the only other elected official to attend Thursday’s game, knows what it means to the students to have the mayor there and what it must be like for him to know this is his last as mayor.
“I guess it’s very heart-wrenching for him, but you can best believe if he’s here in the district still, he’ll be at a Turkey Bowl, not as an elected official but as a fan and as a proud D.C. resident.
Thousands of fans showed up to watch the game, enjoy the world famous Ballou marching band and to have some fried fish. The game came down to the final seconds with Woodson sealing the victory with an end zone interception. It was their 14th Turkey Bowl win, more than any other high school in the district.
As Gray congratulated each player individually, he asked each senior about his college plans.
“Today, this will feel like the biggest experience of their life, but their lives are really ahead of them,” Gray said. “I want to make sure they recognize the importance of going on to a college to get themselves prepared for the next steps in life.”
As Woodson celebrated the victory, Gray reflected on this being his last time handing out the championship trophy.
“It’s absolutely an incredible honor to be able to do this, to see the enthusiasm of the players, to see so many people turn out for this game,” he said. “It’s always a great crowd, and this was no different than years past. This is a part of my tradition, and no matter what title I have in the future, I’ll be at this game.”