Defense, controversial calls deliver victory for seniors in Powder Puff tournament

Ji-Ho Lee

Seniors Lexi Heim and Danni Hrdina look in on their coaching staff to hear their instructions before play begins. Heim and Hrdina were an integral part of the seniors’ powder puff title on Nov. 19. 
[dropcap style=”light”]O[/dropcap]n a frigid night, a group of RBHS girls took the field to partake in the annual Powder Puff football game.
The competition began with the first semifinal game between the Sophomore and Senior Teams. The latter displayed lots of confidence going into their first match.
“We look pretty fire right now,” senior cornerback Sydney Maly said about her team. “We’ve had great practices from great coaches, and we look pretty sharp. I think we’re going to win it all this year.”
The seniors, however, would get off to a slow start, picking up only one first down the whole first half. An explosive 24-yard run by running back Molly Klein sparked potential, but the drive quickly sputtered.
Luckily for the seniors, the defense came to play, as the Sophomore offense was stymied. At the end of the first half, the score was 0-0.
The seniors started the second half on the offensive side of the ball. With 8:40 remaining in the game, quarterback Lexi Heim lofted an ill-advised pass, targeting receiver Jordan Taylor. Sophomore cornerback Morgan Devault, however, would intercept the pass, shifting the momentum in the sophomores’ direction. But, the Senior defense would remain stout, and the turnover was for naught.
Later in the half, sophomore quarterback Tamara Holiday showed impressive acceleration, making her way into the secondary until getting pushed out of bounds. Holiday’s 27-yard run, however, did not equate to points as the Senior defense forced yet another turnover on downs.
At the end of regulation, the score read 0-0, and the game was sent to overtime. After winning the coin toss, the Seniors needed just one play to win the game, as quarterback Lexi Heim rushed into the end zone. The heavily favored Seniors moved on to the championship game, defeating the Sophomores by a score of 6-0.
The second match of the night featured was the talented Junior team against the Freshman squad. Before the match, players and coaches from both teams were prepared to play the game.
“I feel pretty hype right now,” junior running back Molly Gunter said. “I think we have a good chance to win the tournament, but we have to take it one game at a time.”
Meanwhile, the Freshmen, considered to be huge underdogs, were concerned with more than just their opponents.
“The weather is going to play a big factor,” coach Wyatt Towe said about the chilly atmosphere. “It’s going to be a big game to run the ball, and we will need a big performance from running back Brittney Hayes.”
But it wasn’t the Freshman running back who had the first impact on the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, Gunter exploded up the sideline with a 40-yard touchdown run. The quick drive was capped off by a quarterback sneak from Delaney McDannold who executed the two-point conversion, putting the Juniors ahead 8-0.
After another touchdown and two-point conversion was executed by the dynamic duo of Gunter and McDannold, the Freshman team was driving. With 1:11 left, Hayes received the handoff and roamed left. Seeing no daylight, she quickly reversed field and managed to reach the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, making the score 16-6 at halftime.
The second half was much more of a defensive battle, as the Juniors, led by Ojurere Shonekan’s two sacks and two tackles for loss, stumped the Freshman offense.
With 2:14 left in the game, the Juniors had a chance to put the game on ice. McDannold tossed to Gunter, and the play appeared to be a typical halfback toss. But, Gunter dropped back, and found her quarterback turned receiver wide open across the field. The trick play was all that was needed, and the Juniors advanced to the finals by a score of 22-6.
The championship game faced a defensively stout Senior team against an offensively explosive Junior squad. However, at the conclusion of the game, it was not the players who made the headlines.
With 2:14 remaining in the first half, McDannold found Gunter in the end zone, putting the score at 6-0. But, several minutes later, the scorekeeper was informed that the play had been ruled dead before the pitch-and-catch. No whistle was heard, and the Juniors were not allowed to go back and finish their drive. As a result, the halftime scoreboard read 0-0 after a very confusing turn of events, in which the officials appeared to be assisting the Seniors.
At the start of the second half, the Juniors went back to the run game, a move that would pay off as Gunter accelerated for an impressive 21-yard touchdown run. Gunter would finish the drive herself, punching in the two-point conversion.
After the score, the Senior team appeared to gain a new player. A wide receiver by the name of “Tatiana” entered the game as a wide receiver. “She,” however, looked eerily similar to senior wide receiver Taten Lyngstad, a member of the RBHS Boys Football Team. The Junior defense, assisted by a drop from the mysterious new player, held their ground.
Later in the half, with 1:31 remaining, Lexi Heim reached the end zone on a quarterback sneak. The Junior coaches, however, were visibly frustrated as Heim seemed to take several steps out of bounds before reaching the end zone. Still, the Seniors would execute their two-point conversion, and the score was tied 8-8.
After the score, Gunter was seen putting on her coat, and many speculated a possible injury. Instead, several sources confirmed that senior captain Ronni Farid disallowed the junior star from playing because she was wearing cleats. Gunter responded by saying she had other tennis shoes she could wear, but Farid would still not allow Gunter’s participation. No sources could prove why Farid did not allow Gunter back onto the field of play.
After Gunter’s odd removal, the junior offense was stumped. Every single scoring play involved Gunter, whether she threw, caught or ran the ball.
Meanwhile, regulation could not decide a winner and the game went to overtime. On a quarterback sneak, Heim rushed into the end zone, giving the Seniors a 14-8 victory of the championship game.
Many players, coaches and fans were confused at the fairness and legitimacy of the officiating. But the event itself was not about the winner and loser. In fact, during the game, a fundraiser took place to gather food for the food bank. Although many questions can be asked about why and how the Seniors were crowned champions of the Powder Puff Tournament, values of teamwork, friendship and giving back to the community shined brighter than the scoreboard.

Juniors Olivia Spaedy and Jordan Williamson brave the cold in their first game against the freshmen. The juniors dominated in their first match, but lost a heartbreaker against the seniors in a controversial championship game.
Juniors Olivia Spaedy and Jordan Williamson brave the cold in their first game against the freshmen. The juniors dominated in their first match, but lost a heartbreaker against the seniors in a controversial championship game.
Photo by: Levi Smith
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