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Seniors defeat Juniors in inaugural Cougar Bowl

Submitted by Barth Keck. 

(Nov. 22, 2021) — The seniors defeated the juniors, 13-12, in the inaugural Cougar Bowl at Haddam-Killingworth High School on Nov. 20, 2021. The event, sponsored by the school’s Cougar Den, was planned as an updated version of the powderpuff game – a flag football contest played between 11th and 12th grade girls – last played in 2016.

“It started with the captains of the football team wanting to do a flag football game,” said Ann Deibert, English teacher and co-advisor of the Cougar Den. “They knew the history of powderpuff at HK, so they wanted an updated version. It was very much student-initiated.”


More than 300 spectators attended the game, 40 girls played in the game, 12 boys served as cheerleaders, and five HK football players acted as coaches.

“The Cougar Bowl was a huge success, thanks to the tireless efforts of our students and staff in just a short period of time,” said Carlye Kohs, the school’s library media specialist and Cougar Den co-advisor. “Over the past two weeks, our students dedicated time each day during lunch to practice football and cheer. It’s amazing how much they learned in that short period of time, due in no small part to the tremendous efforts of our student coaches.”

Junior Juliana Gagliardi

“It was really fun and I got to use all my pointless football knowledge stored in my head for years,” said junior MVP Juliana Gagliardi, who scored a touchdown on a 33-yard, scoop-and-score fumble recovery. “We’re all going to play next year and we’re actually going to win.”

“I was surprised by how much I learned about the game of football,” said senior MVP Yumi Imai, who scampered for a 65-yard touchdown run. “I didn’t know the difference between offsides (a defensive penalty) and false start (an offensive infraction) before I played in the Cougar Bowl.”

Seniors Audrey Snyder (l) and Yumi Imai (r)

Senior Audrey Snyder was named the game’s overall MVP, while senior Lucas Kamoen was awarded Cheer MVP.

The HK football team provided the coaches, including seniors Matteo Piacenti and Kevin Cavrell, who coached the junior girls, and seniors Corey Phipps, Ryan Duncanson, and Nick Glynn, who coached the senior girls.

Senior Bella Virgulto and junior Ana Garcia coached the cheerleaders, while seniors Andrew Fleig and Gabe Barile handled the public-address duties.

All proceeds will go toward the budget of the Cougar Den, which plans events throughout the school year to boost school spirit and create a positive school climate. Co-advisor Deibert said preliminary plans for the future are to split proceeds of the Cougar Bowl with the high school’s Holiday Show, an annual telethon that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable organizations over the past three decades.


Photo of cheerleader pyramid by Kathy Brown. All other photos by Ann Deibert. 

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