The annual event pitted the fifth grade homerooms against each other in a flag football tournament

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Unlike Super Bowl LIII, which saw an underwhelming squareoff between the Patriots and Rams (and the rise of memes inspired by shirtless Adam Levine), the game that recently took place at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary was far from a snoozefest. Energy and excitement radiated from the crowd, touchdowns were scored minutes into the first quarter, and friendly creatures, including a robot and gorilla, ran rampant.

This was the ninth annual Super Duper Bowl, which took place on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 4 at the school, located at 185 Walton Drive in Falls Township. Each year, the event pits the fifth-grade homerooms of teachers Jason Miller, Roger Kean, Joseph Melnick and Arlene Toledano in a friendly flag football tournament, with the winning team earning a massive trophy and year of bragging rights.

Over the past several weeks, the students have been practicing and facing each other during recess, oftentimes braving cold and muddy conditions. Not only did they gain valuable lessons in good sportsmanship and fair play, they served as inspirations to the younger students.

“It’s a rite of passage,” said principal Lisa Follman on partaking in the Super Duper Bowl. “Everybody wants to be a fifth grader.”

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Keeping up with tradition, children in grades K-4 convened in the gymnasium at 2 p.m. for a pre-game pep rally. Their energy was ear-shattering as they chanted for their favorite teams while brandishing handcrafted posters into the air. After a performance by the school’s pep band, Miller, who served as announcer for the Super Duper Bowl, brought everyone’s attention to the side of the stage.

In neat rows were four boxes packed with food, and four water cooler jugs filled with coins, each decorated by one of the participating teams. Ahead of the event, all Eleanor Roosevelt students got involved by bringing in canned goods, which will be donated to the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter in Levittown, and coins, which will go to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We try to switch it up and gear it toward charity cases we have in our school,” Miller told The Times. “We have a couple kids who have been at CHOP recently for various things, so we decided to donate our coins to CHOP this year. We still have to count them up but there’s a good amount, so we’re pretty happy with the outcome.”

For Miller, who saw the inception of the Super Duper Bowl, it’s a thrill to watch the entire Eleanor Roosevelt community get involved in what’s become an annual tradition.

“Roger Kean and I, we kind of came up with the idea during the winter months nine years ago. Kids were getting rowdy because we had so many indoor recesses because there was snow on the ground,” Miller said. “So we decided to take the fifth graders at least outside a couple days a week. Then we had this idea — let’s turn this into a tournament with a big game — and we’ve kind of grown from there every year.”

A tradition of excellence: Teacher Jason Miller (pictured) has been involved with the Super Duper Bowl since its inception nine years ago. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

For Super Duper Bowl IX, teams pulled out all the stops in making their grand entrances during the pep rally. The Melnick Mashers, Toledano Tornadoes, Miller Mean Machine and Kean Kongs sported custom T-shirts emblazoned with player numbers and nicknames like “Big Shot” and “Stanky Leg.”

Highlights included an intricate Mean Machine robot mascot, and the transformation of Kean into a hungry gorilla. Donning a fuzzy costume, the teacher climbed a long rope to the gymnasium ceiling, where he found his banana prize.

Roger Kean. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Once all teams were accounted for, the crowd, which encompassed current and former students, faculty and loved ones, made its way outside for the game. Though the ground was significantly muddy after the previous Friday’s snow, there were smiles all around as the warm sun blazed down and energetic Top 40 hits blared through a sound system. The fifth graders were ready to play.

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

The Kean Kongs were the first to score mere seconds into the first quarter.

“We already have more touchdowns than the Super Bowl,” joked Miller, who provided play-by-plays throughout. “Was that an attempt at the Philly Special?”

As more points were steadily earned, it seemed as though every player was on their A-game, including the Tornadoes’ guest quarterback Officer John Yeager, who was named “Officer of the Year” by Falls Township in 2018.

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

After multiple rounds and matchups, the results were in — the Kean Kongs came out victorious with a score of seven. The Mean Machine and Mashers tied for second place with five points, followed by the Tornadoes with three. Mean Machine’s Nasir Snead was named MVP for good sportsmanship, and was gifted a larger-than-life Super Duper Bowl IX pretzel. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com



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