Maloney, Platt to face off in annual powder puff football game

MERIDEN — This week marks the recurrence of a long-cherished tradition, a right of passage and a harbinger of the Thanksgiving holiday: the Maloney-Platt powder puff football game.

Every year squads of Francis T. Maloney and Orville H. Platt High School seniors face off in a flag football match and fundraser for the year’s graduating class that has become something of a staple event in the greater community.

The game itself predates current Platt head coach Drew Blythe and Maloney head coach Daniel Lobner’s seven- and four-year tenures managing the school teams, and routinely draws large crowds of spectators and athletes alike. 

“It’s just huge,” Blythe said “The girls look forward to it every senior year.”

Recruitment for the game tends to come easily, with students often anticipating their chance to take to the gridiron for the bulk of their high school careers.

Captains Dayanara Gonzalez, Emily Iannucci, Na’Shyia and Kaylani Cruz of Platt and Sophie Boulier, Mollyanne O’Malley, Mariah Cagana and Pamela Irizarry Mendez of Maloney each said they planned to play since their freshman year.

Though the annual matchup between Meriden’s two public high schools is fiercely competitive, it also provides a team-building exercise for students, as star athletes practice shoulder to shoulder with players who have never played organized sports.

“I think there’s a really good mix,” Boulier said. “There’s varsity athletes, but there’s also people that have probably never played a sport before that are showing up and showing out and putting in the work,”

“We have a lot of athletes, but we have a lot of people who don’t play sports, but they’re really good,” Preston said. “Our coach is really good at helping people who are athletes and don’t know contact sports.”

The blend of student-athlete and non-athlete teammates does not come without its challenges. Captains and coaches of both high schools said their teams experienced early learning curves honing the minutiae of the sport and overcoming injuries, but quickly worked out any kinks through leaning on one another.

“In the beginning, it was kind of hard learning defense and offense and those two things colliding together and finding out the routes and different plays, but we worked really hard together,” Iannucci said.

Success “has a lot to do with support,” Irizarry Mendez said. “Our team is a lot about supporting each other and having people tap your back and be like ‘hey, you did a really awesome job when you don’t actually know what you were doing. It was just awesome. I feel like that’s what’s keeping us motivated.”

Though every cohort of powder puff players brings a unique set of personalities and  experiences to the table, the class of 2023 is set apart in that it was faced with a kind of never-before-seen adversity that threw a wrench in the bulk of their high school careers: the emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent remote and hybrid learning which began in the spring of their freshman year. 

“They’ve had a really tough four years.” Lobner said “So, they have a lot of heart. They’ve shown a lot of toughness out here. It’s really a special group,”

The 2022 Maloney vs. Platt powder puff game will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Falcon Field. General admission will be $10.


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