MAYAA football to play at Spinelli Field
BENNINGTON — A tradition from years ago will return to Mount Anthony's Spinelli Field this weekend.
The Mount Anthony Youth Athletic Association, or MAYAA, senior football team, will host a Northeastern Youth Football League semi-final game against Mechanicville on Saturday at 6 p.m. under the lights at Spinelli.
"It's been something we've been trying to do for a few years now," said MAYAA president and senior team head coach Ken Mailhot. "Years ago, they always used to have the MAYAA Super Bowl under the lights. We have the opportunity this year with how our senior team did this season so far."
Two years ago, the group asked to use the field for a home game but were turned down.
This year, Mailhot talked to Mount Anthony's athletic director Ashley Hoyt about using the field.
"Ashley gave us an opportunity to do it, she was all for it and we made it happen," Mailhot said.
Home games for the Minutemen are usually at the Mount Anthony Union Middle School on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hoyt said she met with Mailhot about halfway through the Minutemen season about the possibility of playing the game at Spinelli Field under the lights.
"We talked when they realized they'd have the [playoff] game, and he asked if they could play on Spinelli Field, they hadn't done it in a while," Hoyt said. "There weren't any high school conflicts, so I thought it was a great idea. My reasoning was that the younger kids are consistently attending the high school games, so it would something for them to look forward to, an opportunity to play there."
Hoyt also said the field "has held up well this year."
"The younger kids aren't doing that much damage to the field, so it's not a big worry of mine," Hoyt said.
As part of the evening, the MAYCA cheerleaders, a group of nearly 50, led by coach Jamie George, will be in attendance to cheer on the Minutemen.
The junior team (consisting of third and fourth graders) play in their playoff game against Hoosick Falls on Sunday, but will be announced at halftime to the crowd.
This is the fourth year for the Minutemen in the NYFL and joining that organization has changed the program.
"Twenty or 30 years ago, hundreds of kids played MAYAA football, now we have like 50 or 60 playing," Mailhot said. "The biggest thing that's changed is safety. Fifth and sixth graders play with other fifth and sixth graders. The third and fourth graders [are the same]. Instead of playing each other, they play other schools or towns now, it's more like the all-star format [in Little League baseball]. It's one unified team together that gets the experience of playing another town, which is a great experience."
Members of the Mount Anthony high school team will also be involved throughout the evening.
"We're trying to make it more of an event having the high school kids there," said Mount Anthony varsity football coach Chad Gordon. "We're going to have some guys on the chain [first down] crew. We want to have the [older] kids involved."
MAYAA's senior team (consisting of fifth and sixth graders) is 4-1 and is the No. 2 seed in the NYFL playoffs, the only loss to No. 1 seed Schuylerville. They topped Mechanicville earlier in the season, 47-6 and with a win, will compete in the Super Bowl at Brunswick on Oct. 21. Along with Mailhot, the coaches include Casey Smith, Matt Maroney, Jeremy Carey and Todd Saunders.
"It should be a really cool youth night," Mailhot said. "The senior team has never been to the championship. We've never been able to get over the hump, so I think this will be our best shot."
Admission for Saturday's night event is free.
"We're really excited and the kids are stoked," Mailhot said. "It's going to be fun."
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