Samaha Bowl

Wallingford's Annual Samaha Bowl Is About More Than Football

The Wallingford Thanksgiving Eve powder puff football tradition is about unity and inclusion, according to those participating.

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Traditional high school football rivalries are being rekindled all around the state this week, and one of them was played Wednesday afternoon - the country’s longest running powder puff game between Lyman Hall and Sheehan.

It’s the Samaha Bowl. A flag football, powder puff tradition started by former Sheehan athletic director Judy Samaha, back in 1972.

Heading into the game, there was no shortage of energy. Both Lyman Hall and Sheehan get psyched up for the 51st Samaha bowl with morning pep rallies.

When asked what she was anticipating before the game, Lyman Hall’s Alyssa Murphy wasn’t bashful.

“A win,” she said with a confident smile, eliciting a raucous cheer from her teammates standing behind her.

The seniors-only game has been held for decades. Pitting cross town rivals against each other on each Wednesday before Thanksgiving in a powder puff game that draws a huge fan following.

Lyman Hall senior Dori Madancy has waited a lifetime to play this game. Her grandfather was Lyman Hall's first powder puff coach.

“For 51 years this has been in my family,” Madancy said. “This means a lot to me.”

Madancy, was hoping to quarterback Wednesday, but instead was sidelined with a serious knee injury.

“I was devastated but I have the best team around me,” she said.

Rallying behind Madancy, Lyman Hall was looking to extend its winning streak to seven straight games. Sheehan, though, is hoping to regain the title.

On the field, it was Sheehan getting on the board first with a long touchdown run by Sydney Cuticelli.

Lyman Hall had trouble getting anything going with Sheehan playing tough defense throughout. Late in the game, another TD run by Sheehan’s Olivia Platt gave the Titans a commanding 21-0 lead.

Regardless of the score, though, those playing Wednesday say this game has a deeper meaning.

“I think it represents unity and inclusion,” said Lyman Hall’s Vivian Pawloski.

Wallingford gathered Wednesday for the 51st Samaha Bowl, the nation's longest-running high school powder puff football game.

“I noticed that it really brings everyone together and it really makes you feel like a family,” Sheehan’s Arlyn Sandoval said.

When the final minutes ticked off the clock Wednesday, it was Sheehan 34 - Lyman Hall 0 - Sheehan snapping Lyman Hall’s winning streak.

While the Titans were victorious, the real winner was Wallingford.

“At the end of the game when it’s over to be able to cross those sides and shake hands [with our rivals] and be one community. That’s what this is about," said Sheehan coach Cheryl Colwick.

When it comes to powder puff football, Wallingford’s Thanksgiving tradition is hard to beat.

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