By Jorge Deneve
“Girls don’t play football, but the guys get the chance to play football,” said senior Melanie Acorda, a participant in three Powder Puff football games at Culver City High School and one of the event’s main organizers since it was restarted in 2016.
For the third straight year, the seniors and sophomores faced the juniors and freshmen in an all-girls flag football game on the lacrosse field, with teachers and members of the football team as coaches. New rules opened up the offenses, and the two teams played to a dramatic 26-26 tie, with touchdowns being scored in the final minute of each half.
The current iteration of the Powder Puff game began under the direction of social studies teacher Paige Shakeri, who was also the cheer coach at the time.
“I worked with the cheerleaders the first year to start it up,” Shakeri said. “We just kind of wanted to have an activity that was theirs outside of cheering.”
Money raised during the week, as well as returning player fees, was donated to Safe Place for Youth, an organization in Venice dedicated to helping homeless youth find more permanent solutions. This carries on from the donations of the past two years to 9to5.org and the Culver City Middle School girls soccer team, respectively.
Student organizations on campus use the event as a means to fundraise for their clubs as well, selling drinks and snacks at a pregame tailgate next to the field, which was introduced last year by the ASB.
In addition to the fundraisers during the week, a series of pep rallies and spirit events at lunches built up excitement, and the bleachers at the lacrosse field were filled come Friday night.
“The first year, we also had a good turn out because everyone was excited because it was something new, but this year it was one of the best turnouts I’ve ever had,” Acorda said of the student body’s attendance for the game.
In addition to the excitement produced during the week, this year’s new rules decreased the players on the field for each team from 11 to eight, and the introduction of a three-second rush count allowed the quarterbacks more space to make plays downfield.
This was evidenced by three first-half bombs from senior Lauren Jones to fellow senior Angel Morris, helping the senior-sophomore team take a 20-14 halftime lead, with junior Kayla Barnes using her electrifying speed to score on two runs for the junior-freshman team. Each team was successful on one conversion attempt each in the half.
During the game, players and coaches were interviewed on the speakers, with Morris the chief entertainer as she described how she got open in the secondary after her second touchdown.
The defenses stiffened in the second half, with each team producing one interception. The junior-freshman team drove the length of the field to tie the game at 26, leaving one minute for the senior-sophomore team to score. The seniors and sophomores marched down the field, but the final two pass attempts into the end zone fell incomplete, and the game ended in a stalemate.
Even before the game, Shakeri pointed to a host of new players as a positive sign for the future of the game in the coming school years.
“Other kids are deciding to play in the game and not just watch,” Shakeri said. “I would actually like to see us have two games, a frosh-JV game between the freshmen and the sophomores and then a varsity game between the seniors and the juniors and have more of a community event.”
If the event continues to grow as it has the past two years, then Shakeri’s vision could become a reality through the work of the students.