Over the past few weeks, the dinner conversation sometimes got a little overheated at Jack and Will D'Angelo's Reisterstown home.
With Jack playing for Calvert Hall's football team and younger brother Will playing for Loyola's, there wasn't much to agree upon when talk turned to the Turkey Bowl coming up at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday morning.
For the 93rd time, Calvert Hall and Loyola will meet on Thanksgiving Day, but this will be the first time that Jack, a senior starting lineman, and Will, a sophomore reserve receiver, square off.
Athletes since they were little, both brothers have strong competitive streaks and, of course, that comes out in everything from pick-up basketball games in the driveway to video games in the basement to conversations about the Turkey Bowl at the dinner table.
Although they've toned it down a little this week, Jack said, "it got pretty heated at dinner sometimes — just back and forth about who was better. We don't have any bets on the game, but we tease each other a lot. I talk about the games he lost and he talks about the games we lost."
Like most brothers, Jack, 17, and Will, 15, know how to push each other's buttons, and they go at it sometimes, but they're also having fun with the Turkey Bowl rivalry.
"It just spices things up with the competitiveness," Will said. "We're closer than most brothers, I think, but we do fight."
The Turkey Bowl showdown is one neither the boys nor their parents, Maureen and Perry D'Angelo, saw coming when Will opted to go to Loyola. Jack has played football since seventh grade, but Will was a soccer player until last year.
Will said he didn't quit soccer to play football. He just got tired of it. He also switched from baseball to lacrosse, a sport Jack has signed to play in college at Quinnipiac. Thursday will be the first time the two go head-to-head in organized sports, but Will can't be accused of ducking his big brother.
"I stopped soccer not knowing I was going to play football," he said, "and then I played football partly because I wanted to play against him."
That creates a Turkey Bowl dilemma for their mother, who, earlier this week, was still trying to figure out where to sit during the game to keep things even between her only two children. She has the wardrobe covered, however, with a gold-toned vest that works nicely for either side — Loyola's blue and gold or Calvert Hall's red and gold. Their father will take pictures on the sideline.
Fortunately, for their parents, the boys likely will not be on the field at the same time. Jack is primarily an offensive tackle with limited time on the defensive line and Will, whom Loyola coach Brant Hall said will get on the field, plays only offense.
To this point, most of their head-to-head athletic competition has been at the driveway basketball hoop with a handful of friends, sometimes including Jack's Calvert Hall teammate Sean Smith, a senior wide receiver.
"We play two-on-two and it gets really chippy," Smith said with a laugh. "If there's a hard foul, the other one makes sure he hits harder the next time, but the next game, they're fine. There's a lot of competition in everything they do from academics to anything on the field."
Their sibling rivalry in many ways mirrors the rivalry between Calvert Hall and Loyola.
"When the game is on, Jack and Will get in each other's faces," said Will's Loyola teammate Andrew Will, a junior lineman and another pick-up basketball player. "But when the game is over, they can still hang out and be the best of friends. I don't think Jack or Will considers themselves having any greater friend than each other. Just like Loyola and Calvert Hall, there's a lot of trash talking and stuff that goes on before and during the game, but afterwards I'm friends with a lot of kids from the Calvert Hall football team and I hang out with them."
Hall, Loyola's first-year coach, didn't have a brother on the Calvert Hall team when he played in the Turkey Bowl for the Dons, but he knows something about the personal rivalry. His best friend, Avon Mack, played for the Cardinals and the two went on to be teammates and roommates at Lehigh. Mack was later a groomsman in Hall's wedding.
"We were friends before the Loyola-Calvert Hall thing actually happened," Hall said. "The competition is what you really look forward to, and to be able to shake hands and to know that you've got a certain respect for your competitor in the rivalry game. It's so competitive, especially if you're brothers and you spend a lot of time with each other, you're able to battle it out, and I think it's just awesome if you're on the top side of it and you win, you have those bragging rights."
No. 4 Calvert Hall has won three straight Turkey Bowls, but Loyola has won 12 more games in the series than the Cardinals (48-36-8).
Winning this year's game would be especially meaningful to the senior classes on both sides.