ROCKINGHAM – The Richmond Senior High School student senate powderpuff game has become a sporting tradition like no other. And by no other — there’s some truth behind that.
With the seats filled with hundreds of fans, Raider Stadium was the site of the 12th annual powderpuff game Wednesday, as dozens of Lady Raider students donned quirky nicknames to battle for bragging rights on the gridiron between the graduating class of 2018 and the junior class of 2019.
Hosted by RSHS’ senate, which is comprised of current seniors, all of the game’s proceeds went into the senate’s general fund. Decked out in fluorescent green jerseys, the seniors would win a closely contested battle against the blue jerseys of the juniors, winning by just a touchdown, 14-7.
“This is our big end of the year event,” explained Peyton Babson, the sitting senate president. “Everyone did great, there was a lot of good support and interactions and the game was really good this year.
“All of the money raised tonight goes into the general senate fund, and the junior senate has started to take over for next year,” added the University of North Carolina bound cheerleader.
Both squads used a combination of players who play a sport at Richmond and those who do not, but regardless of who was on the field, the competition was tough. Playing four six-minute quarters, the flag-football style game came down to the final drive to see if the junior class could tie the game.
Leading the senior squad on offense at quarterback was Trinity Stanley, as she was aided by fellow seniors Jordyn Horne, Harmony Jones and Amia Pemberton out of the backfield. Other seniors to get in on the action were Altman Griffin, Owen Bowers, Ally Quick and Kathleen Pittman.
For the juniors, it was Chloe Wiggins under center and Nancy Avalos as the primary running back. Also picking up a lot of playing time for the underclassmen were Morgan Hooks, Greyson Way, Savannah Lampley, Tatum Hubbard, Kelsey Murray and Kaiyah Sriratanakoul.
After a quick four-and-out drive to open the game, the juniors stalled a driving senior team when Lampley tipped a Stanley pass that found its way into the hands of Hooks for an interception. Off that turnover, Wiggins led an 11-play drive that ended in a dropped pass in the end zone on fourth and goal with 49 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Entering the second stanza, neither team had lit the scoreboard. That all changed when Horne took a handoff from Stanley and dashed 15 yards up the middle untouched and into the end zone on the third play of the second quarter. The seniors held a 7-0 lead with 5:30 to go in the opening half.
However, the junior squad, coached by several current Richmond football players including Isaiah Ratliff, Malik Stanback and Bobby Terry, responded on the very next drive. Wiggins, who was most lethal scrambling out of the backfield, ran the ball on consecutive plays to tie the game. After giving the juniors a first down just past midfield on a long scamper, Wiggins did it again on the next play, first running to her right before cutting back across the field and eventually down the left sideline for a 25-yard touchdown run.
With 4:23 to go in the second quarter, the game was knotted a seven. Both teams would get one more offensive possession before the halftime buzzer, but neither would do any more damage. Then, perhaps, the night’s most entertaining sequence occurred.
Both classes had all-male cheerleading squads present, complete with hair bows, more unique nicknames and even some cheerleading skirts. Getting a good laugh from those in attendance, both cheerleading teams performed halftime dance routines.
The likes of Jake Ransom, Garret Richardson, Cameron Carraway, Nolan Allen and Kyle Goodwin headlined the junior performers. For the seniors, it was Shane Summey, Jimmy Cooley, Carter Roberson, Cameron McDonald and Gordon Pihl, among others.
After the halftime spectacle, the game’s final scoring play would occur on the first drive of the third quarter. The seniors opened the quarter with a long run by Jones, and Horne appeared to dash into the end zone on the next play, but had her flag pulled within a yard of the goal line.
A penalty against the seniors backed them up about 10 yards, and that was when coaches Daryn Mason and Chase Coulthard resorted to some Raider Magic. Jones would pick up a couple of yards on a second down run, but it was Bowers who came up big for her fellow seniors.
On third and goal, Quick snapped the ball to Stanley who aired out a pass to Bowers down the right sideline. Leaping high above a defender, Bowers caught the ball and tip-toed her way into the right corner of the end zone to give the seniors a 14-7 advantage with 3:50 to go in the quarter.
Senior Altman Griffin (left) celebrates with Owen Bowers (middle) after her game-winning touchdown catch.
Wiggins captained another long drive for the juniors, but a 12-play drive would end just short of a game-tying touchdown, as Pittman reached up and intercepted a Wiggins pass with 59 seconds to go in the third. It was Pittman’s third defended pass during the game, and she proved to be a menace on defense all night.
The underclassmen got two more opportunities, but both ended without a score.
“There is such a great rivalry between these two classes,” said senate historian and current senior Mackenzie Webb. “It goes back to homecoming when we played harmless pranks on each other. It’s always been a tradition — a rivalry between the upperclassmen and lowerclassmen.”
Babson added that her favorite part of the night was the cheerleading halftime show, adding that “the boys’ routine came together” and made her “proud,” as she helped coach them.