Oxford renaming gridiron Tony Abbott Field tonight

Instead of the hundreds of fans appearing at a typical Oxford varsity football game, perhaps thousands will be on hand tonight for a unique celebration tonight.

During halftime of Oxford's game against Sidney, the gridiron will be renamed Tony Abbott Field, to honor the retired Oxford teacher and varsity football coach. Current Oxford head coach Ray Dayton was a student at Harpursville while Abbott was finishing his coaching tenure, and had the opportunity to play against Abbott's successor, John Curtis. "I always respected Oxford for its class and toughness, and that's a good way to describe Tony: Tough and classy," Dayton said. "He's helped me out every step of the way. We have him come in each year to talk to the kids about the tradition of Oxford football, and that's a special moment in our program every year. The kids enjoy having him around, and he's a bigger-than-life personality who really has the best interests of kids at heart. I can't think of anybody who met him who had a bad word to say."

One of Oxford's all-time great football players, Mike Chrystie, didn't have the opportunity to play for Abbott, but did serve as Abbott's ball boy for several years before strapping on the pads for Curtis in the late 1990s. "Having been Mr. Abbott's ball boy and being involved with Oxford football ever since, I can't think of anyone who meant more to Oxford football than Mr. Abbott," Chrystie said, who is now the head varsity football coach at Norwich. “He has been my teacher, friend, and mentor, and there is no one more deserving than him."

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