ITALY — While boy cheerleaders Christian “Christina” Lightfoot, Nick “Nicky” Kirton and Michael “Michelle” Hughes kept the fans entertained with a lack of overall cheerleading skills, the junior and senior girls' football teams put on a show with their athletic talents.
Head Coach Joe Celis and the senior Lady Gladiators defeated the head coach Kendrick Norwood's junior team 24-12 to win Friday's Powder Puff Classic at Willis Field.
Though starting quarterback Decorea Green and the seniors gained the early advantage, scoring twice to take a 12-0 lead, the juniors charged their way and cut the lead in half after an Emmy Cunningham touchdown run. The senior girls raced out to an 18-6 advantage behind Green and April Lusk, who carried the load for her side and scored two rushing touchdown in the first half.
Vanessa Cantu, who caught a touchdown pass in traffic, and former Waxahachie Lady Indian Aarion Copeland, whose juggling grab for a long gain competed for Catch of the Night, were go-to receivers for Green.
Dual-threat quarterback Brycelen Richards helped keep the game close when the juniors pulled within a touchdown after Richards hauled in a touchdown pass from Cunningham and setup and exciting fourth quarter. Cunningham and juniors Grace Haight and Annie Perry and go-to receivers for Richards while Richards.
The defensive standouts for the senior team were Green, who had a near interception early in the game, Lusk, who used her speed to make tackles, and Oleshia Anderson who kept pressure on the junior quarterbacks.
Haight led the defensive attack for the juniors with an interception of her own to keep points off the board in the first half and Takeya Pace, Anicka Garcia, Marlen Hernandez, Antonia Salazar and Tomi Newman were active on defense and held the seniors to fewer than 20 points through three quarters.
Despite the second half defensive surge by the junior team, it was Green, who connected with Heaven-Lea Bossu-Browne on a late touchdown pass, who sealed the win for the seniors.
Because of the new $3.5 million turf football field and eight-lane track — part of a May 9, 2015 $12 million bond — slated for opening by next season, this was the last Powder Puff Classic that will be played at Willis Field.