For at least the next year, the current sophomore class at Perry High School will reign as football queens after the Class of 2018 won the first Powder Puff game played by PHS students since the fall of 2007.
Senior Victoria Hegstrom was credited by most as the driving force behind the event, which drew more than 100 PHS students and others to Wiese Park Wednesday evening.
“I remember watching my sister (Jeni) playing in this game as a senior and I always wanted to play in one too,” Hegstrom said. “My first few years in high school I knew I wasn’t really old enough to bring this together, but this year I decided it was the time to do it.”
Hegstrom noted that while the school would not allow the game to be played on school property, they would not discourage it being held elsewhere. Three sticking points quickly emerged, the first being whether or not the cross country, swimming and volleyball coaches for whom many of the would-be student players consent?
The second issue was where the games would be played, with the third potential problem being lighting.
While coach approval was granted (volleyball coach Kristel Schultz had played in the 2007 game) and Wiese Park proved to be available, the issue of lighting remained. Hegstrom learned the cost of renting lights for the event would cost at least $200.
She approached City Clerk Corey Eastman, and in short order Perry Volunteer Fire Chief Christ Hinds agreed to using a fire engine, a ladder truck, and their lights to illuminate the grid at Wiese Park.
Hegstrom thanked the McCreary Community Building thanked for providing the chalking of the field and for the use of two footballs and the city for the use of Wiese Park and the PVFD for donating their time to light the games.
Gathering enough girls to play in the game was quickly accomplished, Hegstrom said.
“I didn’t really use social media,” she said. “I just spoke to some friends, and asked a junior, a sophomore and a freshman that I knew could get some girls organized and it didn’t take that long.”
The first semifinal pitted the sophomores against the juniors. Jo Diw scored twice for the super sophs, with Sydney Guerra and Diw making interceptions to key a 12-0 win.
Hegstrom scored on an end-around for a 6-0 senior lead in their semifinal game against the Class of 2019, but the freshmen struck back immediately as a speedy Natalie Martinez grabbed the ensuing kick off, eluded the first wave of defenders, broke up the middle and raced to the end zone to tie the game at 6-all.
Haileigh Kenyon scored on a run off left end for a 12-6 halftime lead, with scores from Kenyon and Mariah Duffy after the break giving the seniors a 24-6 victory.
Perhaps fitting for a Perry game, the title bout featured the blue-clad seniors against the white-wearing sophomores.
Neither team found pay dirt in a competitive first half, though Duffy nearly sacked sophomore quarterback Sid Vancil for a safety just before halftime.
The big play came late in the contest when Vancil sent a wobbling pass to Guerra, who made a shoestring catch before turning a sprinting to the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
The seniors promptly marched down the field, and on the last play of the game Duffy ran over the left end and angled toward the front of the end zone. Both sides had differing opinions on whether she had scored or been forced out of bounds first, and with video replay not an option, a decision was made to snap the ball for one final play from two yards out.
Duffy tried going wide left again, but this time the angle was cut off, and her diving attempt at scoring was unsuccessful, setting off a wild celebration by the sophomores and their classmates.
While not an official part of the Homecoming celebrations this week, the games were an affirmation of great school spirit in Perry and a heartwarming example of the students and their community coming together, most especially as it served as the perfect nightcap for another successful Volunteer Day, in which the PHS student body spent the school day volunteering around the city.
Sophomore quarterback Sid Vancil is sacked by senior Mariah Duffy after chasing down an errant snap.
Vancil finds Sydney Guerra for a sophomore touchdown.
The title game came down to a final play …
And the Class of 2018 celebrates …