The cool air and bright lights are no longer just for the Boys of Fall, at least not at Demopolis High School.
The annual DHS Powder Puff tradition takes on a new feel this year as it moves from its customary spring date right into the heart of high school football season.
“This was actually Coach (Tom) Causey’s idea. He made the suggestion last year for several reasons,” event sponsor and DHS teacher Jay Russell said of the decision to move the girls’ flag football tournament to autumn. “In the spring, it’s usually pretty hot when we do it. We did it during the daytime. (DHS principal Leon) Clark wanted it to not interfere with instructional time, so we decided to move it. And the girls have been asking for a couple of years if we could have it at night so their parents could come see them play. Mr. Clark wanted it to be at night. Coach Causey wanted to move it closer to football season so it would help build up school spirit and support for the football team.”
The event, which stands as one of the premiere School Fest fundraisers for Demopolis High, pits the freshman girls against the sophomore girls and the junior girls against the senior girls in a flag football tournament where the DHS football players act as coaches, male students act as cheerleaders and bragging rights hang in the balance.
This year’s event will see the first round games played Thursday, Oct. 4 at Tiger Stadium with the festivities kicking off with a pep rally at 6 p.m. The games will be played simultaneously immediately following the pep rally.
“I think it has grown every year a little bit more. The first year we did it was my first year teaching here at Demopolis and it was just the juniors against the seniors and it was a night game. It was on the old field, but nobody knew what it was because it was the very first year,” Russell said.
The following year, all classes began to participate in the event and it ultimately grew into a reliable fundraiser for the Demopolis City Schools Foundation.
“Every year, it has grown a little bit more. We also found out that Demopolis Middle School, a couple years ago, started doing Powder Puff. So, now, we’re getting girls who’ve played over there coming here and playing,” Russell said. “Most of the freshman team this year, played and won last year at the middle school as eighth graders. We have 20 boys signed up to be Powder Puff cheerleaders, which is the most participation we’ve ever had.”
While the event stands as a unique fundraiser, it is the role reversal element that makes it such a positive experience for all those involved.
“(Causey) and the other coaches have enjoyed it because it gives people who aren’t necessarily involved with the football program at all a chance to see what it is like to prepare and go through a game because we try to make it as close to the real thing as we possibly can. Traditionally, football players serve as assistant coaches,” Russell said. “And, it’s good for them because they get to see what the coaches have to go through to prepare them for the games.”
While the players and coaches get a taste of game preparation, the designated spirit squad for the game gets some insight into the rigors of organized pep.
“They’ve been doing a great job. They’re having a good time with it,” Russell said of the 20 boys who make up the largest cheerleading contingent in DHS Powder Puff history. “This is another one of those things where it gives boys a chance to see what these girls have to go through. Several of the cheerleaders have been helping them learn cheers.”
When the teams take the field, it is the senior group that will likely stand as the favorite. Through three years of Powder Puff action, the Class of 2013 has gone 6-0 and looks to end its DHS tenure unscathed.
“They are completely undefeated. They have won every game they have ever played. They have some very athletic girls. Their first year as freshmen, they beat the senior team for the championship,” Russell said of the seniors. “They are extremely athletic. They play well together. Many of the girls already play together on the basketball team. They are the team to beat. They’re always the team to beat.”
The teams that win their respective games Thursday will advance to the championship round, which is scheduled to be played Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.