By BRIAN JENNINGS
There were many firsts for this year’s annual powder puff football series. Southington defeated New Britain, 20-0, on Wednesday, Nov. 22 for the first time at Willow Brook Park and for the first time in two consecutive years in the series. It was also the first time the powder puff series was held the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
More importantly though, this was the first year Southington didn’t play Cheshire after the Rams opted to drop out of the series, which could affect the future of powder puff football in Southington going forward. Southington started playing powder puff football in 1996, and the first team they played against was Cheshire. The Knights didn’t initiate their rivalry with the Hurricanes until 2009.
Southington coach Charles Kemp said that according to Cheshire and Ram athletic director, Steve Trifone, there was just lack of interest in Cheshire High School’s senior girls to play the annual powder puff football game.
“I think a lot of the fall coaches for the female teams put a lot of pressure on the kids and don’t want them playing powder puff,” said Kemp. “Their numbers were dwindling over the past couple of years.”
Kemp said that he allowed Cheshire to play juniors and seniors the last couple of years, but Trifone still didn’t have enough girls to pull a team together for this year’s game.
“I’m hoping Cheshire comes back,” the coach said. “I’m hoping that the community decides that they want to put the program back together again and play us. But until then, we’ll play New Britain.”
Having just one game this year allowed Southington to focus solely on New Britain. Usually with a roster of 100 girls and two games to be played, Kemp plays half of his girls in the first game and the other half in the second game.
This year’s focus was to get all 100 Southington girls into their only game against New Britain. It might have been for most of the game. It might have been for half of the game. It might have been for just one play. But for however long they were in the game for, Kemp managed to get all of the Knights on his roster into Wednesday’s game.
“That’s the hardest part,” said Kemp. “You go up and down the sidelines and ask if everyone got in. There was one girl at the end that didn’t get in, and I told her to get out there and play. To get them all in for one game, that’s hard.”
The Knights conducted a mixed bag fundraiser and sold tickets to raise money for this year’s lone powder puff football game. Although it was just one game, it’s still an expensive event to hold.
Since 2009, Southington has always had a home gate to fall back on, alternating between home and away games with Cheshire and New Britain every year. Without a home game against Cheshire this year, the event was tougher to fund. However, Kemp said that his team did the best they could to raise money.
“We didn’t have that nice little hit where usually I’ve got five, six, or seven thousand dollars in the bank, where I can ask the school what it needs,” the coach said. “But they still went out and did the best they could to make sure that all expenses were covered with still a couple of thousand left over.”
Kemp said that he plans on returning to the sidelines as head coach of next year’s powder puff football team, as long as his coaching staff returns with him. He also went to say that he’s already been assured by Southington High School’s administration that next year’s powder puff football game against New Britain will be back to being held on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
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