The Plant City Dolphins’ inaugural Strawberry Jam Turkey Bowl comes to the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex this week.
Traveling to compete in Turkey Bowls around the country has been a Plant City Dolphins staple for around 12 years. This year, though, the organization decided it was time to make a move it’s considered for a few years.
The Dolphins are still going to play in a Turkey Bowl this week, but it’ll be their own.
“We thought it would be a great fundraiser for the PCD organization,” director Chad Eldridge said. “Since we’ve been to so many, we’ve seen what works well and what doesn’t, and we felt that with our strong board we’d be able to put one on and be successful.”
The inaugural Strawberry Jam Turkey Bowl will draw more than 30 teams from around Florida and even as far as Texas to Plant City for an action-packed weekend. It’s all unlimited weight classes with contact age groups of 6U, 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U, plus a 6U flag football division. Brackets will be completed later this week after a blind draw and should be viewable online by Friday morning.
Though there will be plenty of good football to see throughout all age groups, the 6U flag division is especially worth watching: the West Orange Bobcats, coached by NFL legend Devin Hester, are playing in the tournament. Featuring Hester’s son Drayton, whose athleticism helped him go viral this summer, the team has issued an open challenge to any squad that thinks it’s good enough to hand “the best 6U flag team in the nation” its first loss in three years.
All-star teams were not eligible for the tournament, so every team participating will use their regular-season rosters exactly as they were without any additions. That means area “Dol-fans” will get to see the exact same Mighty Mite, Pee Wee, Midget and Junior Varsity teams that won three TCYFCC Superbowl championships on Nov. 16. The Varsity Dolphins won’t play in the Turkey Bowl.
The tournament runs from Friday through Sunday at the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex, 2602 E. Cherry St. Tickets can be bought online at strawberryjamturkeybowl.com or at the gate. Funds raised by the tournament will benefit the PCD program to help cover the costs of new equipment, facility maintenance and other team expenses.
Local football fans should also keep an eye out for the return of the UYFL national championship tournament in early December. That one, which pulls in hundreds of teams from all over the nation, will take over Ellis-Methvin Park from Dec. 8-14.
The Dolphins will put all four Strawberry Jam Turkey Bowl teams in that tournament. The Varsity team has been repurposed into an all-star group by coach Lloyd Kemp and is getting ready to play in the UYFL’s 14U All-Star bracket.
For more information about that tournament and to buy tickets, visit unitedyfl.com/championships.