MERIDEN — Per tradition, the Stoddard Bowl each year honors two of the former greats who played in the game, one from Platt and one from Maloney.
This Thursday, the Meriden rivals will honor athletes from different generations.
Platt will be honoring its all-time leading rusher, 2005 grad Mike Shorter.
Maloney is honoring Joe Annino Sr., a member of its first four-year class. Annino graduated from Maloney in 1962.
“It’s a great reason to get together,” Annino said this week. “I’m 78 years old. Who the hell remembers what I did way back when? I guess someone does.”
Annino was a multi-sport athlete who earned 11 varsity letters playing four sports at Maloney: football, baseball, track and basketball, where he was captain.
He’s a member of the Meriden Hall of Fame.
Prior to entering Maloney, Annino had no football experience. As a sophomore, he played as a halfback/fullback and a cornerback and middle linebacker on Maloney’s undefeated 1959 team.
As a senior, Annino led Maloney to the 1961 CCIL Conference championship, which Maloney shared with Conard.
Annino and teammate Bobby Chester tied for third place in the state in scoring that year with 149 points. Annino was named the team MVP and was the first recipient of the Terry Wanat Award, created in memory of a teammate who had died on the football field the previous year.
Annino is a now retired from the State Department of Corrections. He resides in Haddam with his wife of 51 years, Donna. The couple has two sons, Mike and Joe Jr., and four grandchildren, Mia, Layla, Tyler and Delany.
Beyond high school, Annino remained involved in several sports, including softball, basketball and flag football.
“My father was an athlete and that got me used to the athletic environment,” Annino said. “It kept me out of trouble from elementary school through high school. Academically, it was too hard to play in college. I had dyslexia and it took me four hours to study when it took others two hours to study.”
Annino entered the United States Marine Corps. Upon discharge, he had a few jobs before ending up as a correction officer.
On Thursday, he will have many family and friends with him at Falcon Field.
“It’s a special moment,” Annino said. “I’m honored, especially at this time of my life. I’m just glad someone remembered me doing something halfway decent many years ago. I’m proud.”
Shorter has plenty of special moments of his own. He’s Platt’s all-time career rushing leader with 4,614 yards. He also holds the Platt record for career all-purpose yards with 5,670.
The number that sticks out more for Shorter is 4.
“My biggest accomplishment was starting all four years at running back on Thanksgiving and winning all four years,” Shorter said.
Shorter was a two-way player for the Panthers, lining up at defense back as well as running back. He wore the No 27. No one at Platt has worn that number since.
Shorter was an All-State and All-Conference player. The 299 yards he amassed against Bulkeley in 2004 remain the Platt single-game rushing record. His 276 career points rank third.
In the 2004 Stoddard Bowl, in his senior year, Shorter and the Panthers beat Maloney 55-20 en route to the Class M state playoffs.
After Platt, Shorter did a post-grad year at Choate, where he was an All-New England running back, then went on to play four years at Fordham University, where he earned a degree in Economics.
Shorter is now employed by Securities Software & Consulting Technologies in Windsor. He lives in Meriden and his 5-year-old son Amyas just completed his first season of flag football. His daughter Mikayla runs track and plays basketball at Middletown High.
“It feels great to be acknowledged for something that I’ve done,” Shorter said. “I built a lot of friendships during my four years.”
Shorter missed the first six games of his freshman season at Platt due to a broken hand suffered playing basketball. He estimates he could have padded his records if he was active for those contests.
“We had great teams in Pop Warner and then we would get split up as half the team went to Platt and half went to Maloney,” Shorter recalled. “I had a great career and I had fun playing with my teammates.”