The Belton Powderpuff 2017 battle between the Seniors (Class of 2018) and Juniors (Class of 2019) was a classic battle of athleticism and great plays, combined with a ton of laughs and smiles.
The Seniors took a big lead in the first half and held off a late charge from Juniors, as they took home the win by a score of 25-12.
It didn’t take long for the Seniors to strike. On the second play of the game, Katie Bain gained 19 yards on a quarterback rollout. On the next play, the talented volleyball/track sprinter bolted for a 61-yard touchdown down the left side. Long jumper Tiarra Hodges, a former soccer forward, showed her leg power with a 20-yard two-point kick that would have cleared the crossbar from 35 yards. She put it over the bar…and not under it…to give the Seniors an 8-0 lead.
The Juniors showed plenty of moxie on the first offensive play from scrimmage, as soccer/track star Rachel Ramm sprinted for a six-yard gain with a convoy of blockers. But volleyball’s outside hitter LéDea Harris intercepted a ball on the sidelines at the Juniors 30.
The 18’s scored on the very next play, as volleyball/basketball Elicia Jackson showed that she could do more than block shots and make midcourt kills, as she showed her quicks with a 30-yard touchdown run.
“I knew that Jackson had jumps,” Belton Journal Sports Editor Tony Adams said. “But she has amazing footwork and her speed is so deceptive.”
Holder Elyse Dobos showed athleticism by lunging for a bad snap, but got turned around fielding the ball and ended up holding the ball backwards for Hodges. Despite everyone screaming “Wrong way, Elyse!” full marks for Elyse on the attempt. Nevertheless, the Juniors foiled the attempt and kept the score at 14-0.
“Personally, would have loved to have seen T kick left-footed,” Adams said. “It would have made Elyse’s effort an absolute genius one!”
The Juniors took ball on their second possession and the Seniors immediately showed their experience from last year’s tussle with the 2017 Seniors. Softball’s all-state outfielder Avery Drake was stopped for no gain on first down and Harlie Wiley was stopped by fellow soccer teammate Alison Navarro on a one-yard reverse on the next play. On third down, Drake was stopped on for a nine-yard loss by basketball post Keilee Burke. Drake nearly found the edge on fourth down, but was stopped short of the first down marker when her fellow softball teammate Mackenzie Bartlett contained her for a three-yard gain and got the ball back for the 18’s.
“It was funny to watch that happen, knowing how competitive the two are on the softball field,” Adams said. “Avery had a look on her face like ‘I can’t believe that you just did that.’ Yes, yes she did!”
Keelie Cheek, a quarterback for the Junior side in the 2016 game, showed her veteran experience at the position by navigating the Seniors down the field. Cheek threw a bubble screen to multi-sport athlete Eve Robertson for nine yards. All-State softball catcher Bethany Edwards gained four yards on a delayed draw. Hodges picked up a first down on a 12-yard sprint to set up a four-yard touchdown pass from Cheek to Robertson, who played freshman football as a wide receiver for the Freshman White Tigers in 2014. Once again, the point-after try failed, which kept the 18’s lead at 20-0 late in the first half.
“Eve was the last female to have played Tiger Football on the high school level,” Adams pointed out. “We’ve had one or two on the middle school level. Eve showed her receiving instincts diving back towards the goal line to catch the pass.”
Izzy Rhoads found fellow soccer teammate Ramm for a five-yard pass completion. Ramm then hit Wiley for a 15-yard pass completion and a first down. Softball’s Ryleigh Jarvis caught a sideline jump ball for an 18’s interception with two minutes before halftime.
Cheek’s pocket presence was as cool as a cucumber, as she completed an 11-yard pass to sprinter/photographer Jade Wollenberg and a 33-yard catch-and-run to Bain. After a short loss, the 18’s coaching staff called a timeout to set up a 28-yard field goal. However, a five-yard penalty on the Seniors set up a 33-yard try by Hodges. A good snap back to Dobos, a perfect hold and Hodges’ kick past the onrushing basketball player/shot putter Jerrisha Rice would have cleared the crossbar by another 10 yards. The kick brought the crowd to their feet, as the Seniors closed the half with a 23-0 lead.
“Had the snap been off again, Risha would have blocked the kick and the Juniors may have gone the other way for six. The center-holder exchange on that play was a game-changer,” Adams said. “The snap was on point by Tigo (Cinci Trevino) and Elyse put it down beautifully. T hammered the ball gently to the right from the left hash mark and cleared the crossbar three-quarters up the uprights. It was a majestic kick.”
The 19’s would not be deterred. Drake and Wiley had 10-yard runs before Drake, the Lady Tigers Softball all-time single season stolen base leader (twice over) and career steals queen sprinted 60 yards to put the Juniors on the board. Soccer’s Yuli Cruz’s two-point was blocked by Burke and fielded by Harris nine yards deep in the end zone and brought out. Harris, who has sprinters speed and a deadly volleyball kill shot, went the distance for a 109-yard blocked PAT return to register two points. With the lunacy of the play, the Seniors retained a 25-6 advantage.
After a third down fumble by the Seniors, the Juniors found payturf again. Drake found Ramm with a pass at the goal line. Ramm faked to her left, stiff-armed Jackson and twisted into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Drake’s point-after run was short, which kept the score at 25-12.
The Seniors worked the clock in the fourth quarter, as Cheek completed short passes to Bain, Hodges, Edwards, Madi Tatum and basketball’s Ashlee Dunahoo.
“It was almost surgical to watch Cheek work the ball around,” Adams said. “She spread the ball around…five yards here…15 yards there…five more yards to another receiver…it was neat to watch.”
The Juniors had a chance to score when Ramm took the whole field and stadium by storm with crazy run that even Barry Sanders would be proud of, criss-crossing the field twice and covered over 100 yards to picked up 50 yards.
“Ramm is a special speedster on the soccer pitch and all of the Lady Tiger Soccer players on both sides are always tuned up for an 80-minute battle on the pitch,” Adams said. “The reactions from the sidelines and the stands really resembled a rollercoaster ride.”
The run gave the 19’s a last opportunity for a Hail Mary score. With two junior receivers in the area, the game ended on a signature Elicia Jackson one-handed kill shot.
“If you’re going to end a game, leave it to one of volleyball’s best to put the punctuation on it!” Adams said.
The spirit of the participants on the field, the coaches, the volunteers and the crowd made Belton Powderpuff 2017 the annual spectacle an enormous success.