Isaiah Edwards and Robert Albro have a debate — who their family’s first Turkey Bowl Most Valuable Player was last year.
There shouldn’t be any debate about this year’s MVP, because Mariah Dearmitt made her football debut.
Mariah, 9, played an integral role in her family’s Thanksgiving Day football game at Fasick Memorial Park, which her team won 28-21. She returned kicks, blitzed on defense and played running back, a triple threat on the gridiron that had teammates calling her their secret weapon.
“I’m just trying to score,” Mariah said.
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Neal Thomas, who organized the game, believes the family that plays football together stays together.
“Every family goes through things, but this right here, being together and playing football on Thanksgiving, it just kills everything and let’s us enjoy each other,” Thomas, of Bellefonte, said. “It’s been a family thing on Thanksgiving. The boys always play together, but we want everyone to play.”
Sisters Valerie Albro and Janelle Wheatley, of State College, were team captains and had to pick players twice to make the teams fair. About 20 people played.
It didn’t take long for trash talk to begin.
“Some of their players are really weak,” Wheatley said. “Their quarterback is really weak. And then my sister, she always thinks she’s the boss. We won last year on the same team, so this year I had to show her who is better.”
Edwards got Team Janelle off to a quick start with a receiving touchdown and an interception that set up another score to put them ahead 14-7 in the first half.
“I think they were probably fighting over me,” Edwards, 12, said. “I’m little faster than everyone else. I’m good, and I was for sure the MVP last year. My three picks changed the game.”
Play also got a little more physical than intended.
Each player was equipped with flags, but Andy Rodriguez got tackled by two of his cousins on the third play of the game. The tackling continued whenever one of the boys had the ball.
“Everybody has flags, but everyone wants to tackle, too,” Valerie Albro. “I think the kids tend to want to tackle Aunt Val.”
The family hopes more people play next year.
“You know, we’ve got a couple people playing for the first time this year, so anyone that wants to come we’ll play with them and they can make it a part of their Thanksgiving, too,” Thomas said.