Joe Chenoweth runs past defenders while participating in the Turkey Bowl at Fichtner Mainwaring Park in Medford on Thursday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Thursday morning quarterbacks

Merely overcast conditions drew in dozens to Fichtner Mainwaring Park, who kicked off their Thanksgiving with an actual kickoff.

That's not to say weather would've called off the sixth annual Turkey Bowl, according to Ross Leslie of Medford, whose yellow flags signified he was part of the Golden Gladiators rather than the Red Wizards, was among dozens at the Medford park who kicked off Thanksgiving with an actual kickoff about 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

Though officially in its sixth year, the tradition spans much farther back for Leslie.

"It's just something we've always done, since I was a kid," Leslie said at halftime.

For most of the last decade, Leslie has invited his Pacific Power coworkers and their families to get together on the field.

 "Some of these guys look forward to it all year," Leslie said.

As Cathy Cossette of Medford snapped photos from the sideline, her dog, Myla, jumped in the fray wearing a Gladiators flag, assisting Cossette's husband, Dave and nearly 13-year-old son Danny in the game.

"We got our own Air Bud," McKenzie Chenoweth said sitting on a pickup truck tailgate with a blanket, referencing the Disney movie series about a golden retriever that joins high school sports teams.

Cossette said the lineups have a way of changing over the years. She recalled a game eight years ago when Danny was too little to play. Children her son's age have since married, moved away or joined the military.

"And the old guys just get older," Cossette joked.

After the big game, the Cossettes planned to have 16 over for Thanksgiving.

"After this, we get to go home and cook," she said.

To the right of the Turkey Bowl, another dozen and a half carved out their own field for a more spontaneous match of co-ed touch football.

With a dish of cinnamon rolls, fruit, paper plates and plastic forks in the back of her Subaru, Karen Jantzer watched as her two adult sons and teen daughter played together in a match that brought in friends new and old among others from area churches.

Jantzer said each Thanksgiving starts with a different activity, such as paintball or football.

"When you've got boys, you've got to do something other than feed 'em food," Jantzer said.

She had no idea who planned the game, describing the two dozen people watching and playing as "somebody who calls somebody, who calls somebody else." She was glad to see her 28-year-old son, Kevin, playing on the same team as close friend since the fourth grade Albaro Gonzalez of Central Point, knowing they still get competitive.

"It might've gone down to tackle (football) if that happened," Kevin Jantzer said, winded at the end of his game.

Instead the friends played against Kevin Jantzer's 23-year-old brother, Travis and 17-year-old sister, Danielle, a senior at Phoenix High.

Kevin Jantzer's day running around was far from done after most team members said "good game" and began filtering out. Kevin, a member of Southern Oregon Players Association had matches of Ultimate Frisbee — a game using football rules but using a flying disc — still ahead of him.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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