SOUTHINGTON — The Blue Knights and the Rocky Hill Terriers powder puff football teams faced off in a tight game that seesawed back and forth, though Southington ultimately prevailed on Saturday.
"The game got a little gritty towards the end, but the players hung tough and they got it done," said Charles Kemp, who has coached Southington’s powder puff team for the last 20 years.
The game was a nail biter from start to finish. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first quarter and Rocky Hill was pushing into the Knights’ end zone when the clock ran out at the end of the fourth quarter. Able to stave off the offense in those last few minutes, Southington prevailed with a final score of 24-21.
"Both teams did an amazing job. It was a good game, went right down to the wire. I thought that maybe we were going to maybe be able to pull it out there and kind of get away from them in the third quarter, but they fought right back ... they're a good team, they're well coached and they can play," Kemp said.
Coming out of a year without powder puff, which didn’t run last fall due to the pandemic, Southington had a smaller team this year with 65 players on the roster, compared to over 100 they typically have seen in past years. Kemp said that gave him and his coaches more time with each individual player to build up their skills.
The team’s strengths were its speed and toughness this year, which allowed them to break out around the defense to make sudden pushes across the field.
“I give it up to the players. They did a fantastic job and the coaches did a great job," Kemp said.
Though she would’ve liked the chance to line up against Cheshire, Southington’s longtime rival which stopped playing interscholastic powder puff several years ago, Captain Lindsay Stublarec said Rocky Hill is a great team to play. The Terriers took the powder puff championship 10 to 7 when the teams last played in 2019.
"It was definitely a lot of adrenaline and I know that there's a lot of intensity because Rocky Hill is a very, very good team and they played a very good game, but it's just great to have our senior year on our home field and win the game,” she said. “It was really exciting and we have a great team going on.”
The two teams will play a second game again this year to give Rocky Hill a chance to play on their home turf, rather than alternate between the two schools year-by-year. Kemp said he’s both nervous and confident going into that game, which starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Quarterback Ashlyn Desaulniers said she’s excited to have a second big game this year.
"I'm feeling really excited, really pumped up for it. I want to get them back at their own field, even though they have the home advantage,” she said.
Playing on a team that brought together athletes from all different sports — and students outside organized play entirely — and seeing them all come together when they needed to do so was an experience Desaulniers said she wouldn’t trade for anything.
"Powder puff was one of the best senior experiences I've had so far,” she said, “and just the fact that it brought together people from all different sports and anything (they) did in school, it was really cool to see everyone be friends and not be separated.”