A month before he hits the streets as a New Haven cop, John Schmaltz hit the gridiron—and helped the police score a victory.
Schmaltz, a cadet in the police training academy, joined dozens of New Haven cops and firefighters Sunday at Bowen Field to inaugurate a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition: an annual “Touchdown for Charity” flag-football match.
Schmaltz ended up scoring the winning touchdown as the police department doused the fire department 14-0.
The big winner was the early childhood center at the Life Haven shelter. The game raised $1,075 for the center. Organizers said they plan to raise money again by returning to the field around Thanksgiving for years to come.
Schmaltz scored his touchdown early in the third quarter, catching a pass thrown by quarterback Jeff King and running the rest of the 61 yards to the end zone.
Later Officer Jason Santiago intercepted a pass and ran it back for the second touchdown.
Schmaltz, who’s from Cromwell, and his classmates are scheduled to finish up at the academy in late December, then immediately start walking neighborhood beats.
The team’s coach, Officer Rob Strickland (pictured), had a scout’s prime perch for spotting rookie talent for the squad: he’s assigned to the police academy.
Quarterback King (pictured getting off a pass), who patrols the Sherman Avenue area and has been on the force for three and a half years, wasn’t returning to glories past on the field Sunday. He never played football at Hyde Academy, where he went to high school. He played baseball—shortstop and center field. He had a good arm then. He has a good arm now. Which is how he ended up throwing the ball.