Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda and Tonawanda have met a total of 103 times in the annual T-NT high school football showdown. But tonight, many alumni hope a new tradition is set to begin when the inaugural T-NT alumni game kicks off at the NT Sports Complex at 7:30 p.m.
Sixty-nine former Lumberjacks and Warriors will suit up one final time to represent their school and city in an event set up by Alumni Football USA.
There’s a ton of excitement in both camps, as the squads have been practicing for nearly six weeks to prepare, some even engaging in some playful Internet trash talk to give the game the true T-NT feel. Dick Grapes is even coming out of retirement to do the opening game introductions.
“Words can’t even explain how excited everybody is,” said NT captain Adam Day. “It’s taken us all back 15 years. We had our walkthrough (Friday night) and a spaghetti dinner. It’s going to be a dream come true to step back out on the field.”
Day will join his brother Aaron Day for the Jacks, who is traveling all the way from Texas to compete in the game. Other NT notables are Chris Reimer, Jed Jastrzemski, Pat Angelhow and Daniel Ohrum.
The Jacks have been working hard in practice, Adam Day said, and the team is hoping their offense will be able to move the ball against the Warriors.
“It’s funny because a lot of people have asked us what to expect. We’ve had 25 practices and more than half the team has showed up at each one,” Adam Day said. “We’re going to have a pretty exciting offense and give fans something to watch.”
For the Warriors, former standout running backs Joe Kusmierski and Justin Bacon will lead a talented Tonawanda backfield against the Jacks.
Kusmierski said everybody that lines up for the Warriors tonight will leave everything on the field for another chance to beat NT.
“Because of both sides of the community, everybody is real fired up,” Kusmierski said. “There will be a ton of people there form both sides. I’m getting the chills right now. It’s going to be the same as a high school game — we’re out there to win and they’re out there to win. It’s always been like that and after everyone is cool. It’s all about the win.”
Kusmierski added that he’s excited for his young son to get a chance to watch his dad run through the tackles.
“I’m pretty fired up. It’s crazy and we’re all pumped up,” he said. “We’ve been practicing real hard. For me, I’m going out there one last time so my son can see me and try to get one more win. … We’re going out there to compete and I’m going out there to run the best I can. That night, once I feel it, it’s all in the blood, I just hope I can give a good show.”
Adam Day said the rivalry brings the two communities together and the shared experience is what makes the T-NT tradition so special.
“It’s definitely a huge rivalry and the teams have had a little trash talk on Facebook,” he said. “A lot of us played as kids with each other. You still play in softball leagues with the guys. Afterward we’ll go out and have a party between the teams and two cities. Its a great game to raise money for charity as well.”
Tickets are $10 at the box office and pre-game festivities are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.