▶️ Annual Thanksgiving football game becomes a meaningful tribute


When you think of the Thanksgiving holiday, you probably think of family, friends, food, and football.

Well, here at Central Oregon Community College, a group of friends made their Thanksgiving tradition into something so much more.

“This year is pretty special because we renamed it to the JT Evans Memorial Turkey Bowl because we had a friend who always showed up and came and played tragically pass this year and we thought this would be a good way to commemorate him,” said Turkey Bowl Quarterback Tanner Hester.

For the past several years, high school football alumni and friends from across the Bend area gather for their annual Turkey Bowl, a four man football scrimmage where all are welcome.

“We’ve got guys from multiple generations of all the schools in Bend and I think even some beyond,” said Turkey Bowl Wide Receiver Aaron Johnson.

But this year’s gathering has a special meaning.

Part of the team that never missed the annual tradition, JT Evans, passed away in a motorcycle accident earlier this year.

His friends, donning shirts in memory of JT, decided to celebrate his life by carrying on the tradition in his name.

“I mean it’s what Thanksgiving is about: friends, family, food and football,” Hester said.

In JT’s memory, a sizable crew came out for the Turkey Bowl, with four teams competing for a spot in the championship.

“Huge, tremendous effort from a lot of players on the field, but very competitive,” Johnson said.

“Alright man, feels good. It’s Thanksgiving, I’m scoring touchdowns, going to go have a good dinner after this,” Hester said.

After the final snap, win or lose; these friends are just thankful to see each other once again, and to remember J-T, WHO never missed the game.

“When everyone comes back into town to see their families its really good way to catch up with everyone that you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s pretty special. We look forward to it every year,” Hester said.

For the friends that came together this morning for the JT Evans Memorial Turkey Bowl, they plan to have many more in the future to continue to reconnect and honor the memory of JT.

#JTStrong January 22nd 1996 – June 15th 2021.


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