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PCEP girls shine on the gridiron in exciting powder puff showdown

 PCEP girls shine on the gridiron in exciting powder puff showdown

Seniors defensive player of the game Caitlin Noe grabs the flag of a junior running back.

During a special spring girls-only version of “Friday Night Lights”, members of the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park’s schools’ seniors edged a team of juniors, 8-6, in an annual powder puff game that wasn’t decided until the final moments.

The popular event unfolded for the second consecutive year after the 2020, 2021 and 2022 games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Played at the P-CEP varsity stadium before an impressive crowd, the game was organized by members of the National Honor Society, with proceeds being donated to the Sunshine Football Clinic and women’s shelters operated by The United Way.

To check out video highlights from the game, click here.

While the atmosphere was jovial, the stakes were high, several players admitted after the hard-fought contest.

A senior team QB looks for an open receiver
A senior team QB looks for an open receiver

“It’s fun, but it’s super-important for us to win because we can’t let the underclassmen  beat us in our last year of high school,” said Canton senior Caitlin Noe, a stellar soccer player whose Chief teammate, Addie Lockhart, scored the juniors’ only touchdown.

“It was fun to get the seniors and juniors together for one last battle before we graduate.”

Precious and few practices

Each team was scheduled to prepare for the game with three Sunday practices, but Derek Hoffman, head coach of the senior team, revealed his squad held a clandestine training session two days before the game.

PCEP senior team offensive coordinator Sam Plencner goes over a play during a secret strategy session two days before the game.
PCEP senior team offensive coordinator Sam Plencner goes over a play during a secret strategy session two days before the game

“I got the senior players excused from homeroom on Wednesday so we could go over some last-minute X’s and O’s,” Hoffman said, chuckling. “All 53 of our girls were there, locked in and engaged.

“Our playbook consisted of four running plays and four passing plays. We had pulling guards, receivers running routes … all the players picked up the terminology really fast. For instance, we had one play called Bingo Jet. After we talked about it for a minute, our quarterback said, ‘OK, so I hand the ball to the girl going in motion and she follows the pulling guard.”

National Honor Society members Alexis Pickerel, Maria Balow and Haidy Zhang were three of the six NHS members who helped coordinate the game.
National Honor Society members Alexis Pickerel Maria Balow and Haidy Zhang were three of the six NHS members who helped coordinate the game

Hoffman said he loved how the players bought into the game’s strategies and intricacies.

“It was fun hearing them on the sidelines during the game talking football-savvy talk like, ‘It’s third-and-5, we have to get a stop so they have to punt,” Hoffman said. “When they go off to college and they start watching more games, their knowledge of football will be that much greater just from participating in this game and the practices.”

Morson dazzles

The play of the game came in the fourth quarter when Salem senior Madison Morson, a Central Michigan University-bound student/athlete  and finalist for Michigan’s Miss Basketball award, dazzled the crowd with an against the grain 50-yard touchdown run in which she was followed into the end zone by the entire senior roster and coaching staff, who displayed their off-the-charts joy for the effort.

The two teams joined together for a post game photo
The two teams joined together for a post game photo

The seniors tacked on the ensuing two-point play to extend their lead to 8-0, but the juniors responded quickly on a break-away 45-yard TD run by Lockhart, who showed off her blazing speed down the west sidelines that cut their deficit to 8-6.

The seniors’ defense preserved the win by snuffing out the juniors’ potential game-tying two-point try.

With a stellar college basketball career on the near horizon and with a potential state-title high jump chapter awaiting her in June, Morson said she was politely encouraged to skip the powder puff game by coaches and family members to avoid injury.

Madi glad she played

“My coaches and my dad tried to talk me out of playing, but I’m glad I did,” she said. “It was a lot of fun — and I didn’t get hurt.

“It was very important that we won. The juniors were thinking they were all that (she smiled) and we showed them that they’re not.”

A junior running back fights for extra yardage
A junior running back fights for extra yardage

Noe was voted the seniors’ defensive player of the game while Morson earned the offensive POTG honor.

The juniors intercepted three of the seniors’ four passing attempts, forcing a run-heavy attack most of the game, Hoffman said.

“We were hoping our passes that we were connecting on in practice would work, but our QB who was throwing perfect 30-yard passes in practices accidentally threw a couple 5-yard passes in the game. We turned to our running game and ran for over 200 yards.”

At the conclusion of the fun-filled game, members of both teams met for a group photo along the 20-yard line — their smiles a reflection of the joy the game generates between two competitive, yet friendly, classes of students.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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