Not since 1983, has Kirkwood and Webster played more than once in a season. In that year, Kirkwood met an undefeated Webster team at Busch Stadium in the Show-Me Bowl quarterfinal game and Webster left the field a defeated team. Kirkwood did not do as well for its semifinal game and again met Webster in the Turkey Day Game at Kirkwood and gave Webster its second loss of the season, removing any doubt of circumstance, luck, or vengeance between the teams. It also gave Kirkwood five straight victories against Webster for the longest winning streak against Webster since 1908 and the second longest in its football contests against Webster.
From the years 1906 to 1908, Kirkwood amassed a six-game winning streak against Webster in the only other years ever to have had more than one game a season. In 1906, the two teams tied its first game at Kirkwood but Kirkwood came to Webster in a “return game” to defeat them. The teams played three times in 1907 and twice in 1908 – all Kirkwood victories. The very first County League Championship was held in football in 1908 and Kirkwood is able to boast the first football championship of all county teams, which they did by beating Webster.
From 1908 until 1964, surviving the incorporation of the St. Louis County League into the Missouri State High School Activities Association in 1926, Kirkwood and Webster played as league and later conference rivals. In 1964, the teams were split for the first time into two separate conferences but were later reunited in 1966. In 1968, the Missouri State High School Activities Association held its first ever state football championship – the Show-Me Bowl. Because of its traditional Turkey Day Game, started in 1928, neither school submitted applications to participate in the Show-Me Bowl series until Webster did in 1979, and Kirkwood in 1980 – setting the stage for its two games in 1983.
By the 1980s, Kirkwood and Webster were again playing in separate conferences and in 1988 Webster was reduced in Missouri football standing from a 5A team to a 4A team, creating an even greater separation between the schools in football, now not just by conference, but also Show-Me Bowl play. It took another 22 years for the population wave to exit St. Louis County and reach St. Charles County before the two teams returned to similar size, causing the two teams to play in a historic semifinal Show-Me Bowl series game in Kirkwood in 2010, which Webster won.
This year, in 2012, the Missouri State High School Activities Association implemented a new championship football series system so that Kirkwood and Webster were assigned to a seven team division (Class 5, Division 2), whose series placement was based on their season standing. The system, as implemented, greatly increases the likelihood of a varsity football match in the series and also increases the chance of a Turkey Day Game. In effect, unless Kirkwood or Webster are in the final Show-Me Bowl Game, there will now be a Turkey Day Game and this might also be despite a Kirkwood-Webster game in the series to get there.
Since 2002, there have been six cancelled varsity Turkey Day Games and five seasons in which no varsity football game was played between the two teams. The unavoidable cancellation of these five seasonal games in ten years has been the worst event to happen in the game’s history since the four-year suspension in 1924.
This year celebrates the 115th season of football at Kirkwood High School since 1894 (the program being tied with Columbia’s Hickman High School for the oldest high school football program in Missouri) and the 115th season of football at Webster High School since 1898. Tonight commences a great battle of teams and history and perhaps revives the game to its former state of competition. There will be no bell or jug exchanged but there will be the opportunity to add one more wooden Missouri plaque to their coffers at the expense of the other team. May both teams fare well tonight!
Shawn Buchanan Greene is a 1987 Webster alumnus and Turkey Day Game historian. He is the author and organizer of several Turkey Day Game yearbooks available at Lulu.com. His books include: Turkey Day Centennial 1898-1999, Turkey Day Decennial 2000-2009, Turkey Day Annual 2007, Turkey Day Annual 2008, Turkey Day Annual 2009, Turkey Day Annual 2010, Turkey Day Annual 2011, and Turkey Day Annual 2012 which will be released after the 2012 Turkey Day Game.