By John Gillis
Erin DiMeglio, a 17-year-old senior at Plantation (Florida) South Plantation High School, made history August 31 as she became the first girl believed to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game.
With 1:49 left to play and her team holding a 17-point lead over Davie (Florida) Nova High School, coach Doug Gatewood sent third-string quarterback DiMeglio into the game. Operating out of the shotgun offense, DiMeglio handed off the ball twice to senior running back Daniel Dayes for a combined 28 yards. She did not attempt a pass. South Plantation won the game, 31-14.
The 5-foot-6, 160-pound DiMeglio had previously played flag football under Gatewood, who asked her to come out for the varsity team last spring. She was flawless in preseason competition this fall as she completed all of her passes. A versatile athlete, DiMeglio is also the starting point guard for the Paladins girls basketball team.
According to the National Federation of State High School Association’s 2011-12 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 1,604 girls in the nation played 11-player football during the fall 2011 season. According to records, 523 girls have played high school football in Florida since 1973, and 36 played last fall.
While neither the NFHS nor the Florida High School Athletic Association tracks female high school football players by position, DiMeglio’s accomplishment of playing quarterback would have to be considered at the very least a rarity. Generally, female high school football players have been kickers, while there have also been reports of female receivers, defensive backs and offensive linemen.
John Gillis is the associate director of publications and communications of the NFHS. If you have any comments or articles ideas, please forward them to Gillis at firstname.lastname@example.org