Crosstown rivals get down, dirty in physical Powderpuff flag football game at PHS

Gig Harbor senior Abby Miller raises $1,614 from game, which serves as her senior project

Staff writerMay 7, 2014 

Some high school seniors do simple senior projects to satisfy the requirement. Gig Harbor senior Abby Miller wanted to go out with a bang. So she organized a “Powderpuff” flag football game between Gig Harbor and rival Peninsula high school’s senior girls.

What Miller perhaps did not fully anticipate were the logistical challenges of organizing Sunday night’s game, a benefit for the American Heart Association.

“It was really hard,” she said. “Just the reservations of the practice fields for them and us. “Getting sponsors for here, you have to have a sponsor to use the field. Sometimes it was a little difficult just getting girls to come to practice. We used to practice two times a week, then when spring sports started, we cut it down to one day a week on Sundays.”

The teams played in front of a raucous crowd that was at times comparable to Friday night football games at Roy Anderson Field. The Tides won the game 13-6. In the first quarter, Gig Harbor quarterback Gracen Malich connected with Aubrey Lindberg for the game’s only passing touchdown, putting the Tides up 6-0.

Down 6-0 at halftime, the Seahawks had no intention of going away quietly. Peninsula senior Alayna Piwonski shouldered the burden, rushing down the field on numerous plays, culminating in a touchdown in which she was dragging multiple defenders with her across the goal line.

“They told me I had to put the team on my back, and that I had to go and run, and if I see the hole, I just had to go,” Piwonski said. “So every play I just gave it 110 percent and tried to do it for my team.”

In the second half, the game took a drastic turn, as a scuffle broke out and one player was temporarily ejected from the game. After that, the game more closely resembled tackle football than flag, at times verging on being too physical and intense.

Miller had no idea the game would get so scrappy.

“I’ve been to every powderpuff game that’s been here,” Miller said. “I don’t think I’ve seen it this dirty. It is what it is.”

Regardless of the high tensions that arose, the girls from both sides shook hands at the end of the game, and many of them being lifelong friends, embraced and smiled.

“This was a great experience,” Piwonski said. “This is definitely something I’ll never forget with all my senior girls and our coaches. It was a really good bonding experience. It was fun to play football, especially in the rain.”

Miller is following in the family tradition, as her cousins and sisters organized Powderpuff games a few years ago.

The game raised money for the American Heart Association in the name of Miller’s grandfather, Raymond Miller, who died about six years ago of a heart ailment.

“There’s actually a fund there in my grandpa’s name (at the American Heart Association), so all that money goes to his fund,” Miller said.

Miller was thrilled with the turnout, despite the rain.

“I had no idea this many people were going to show up,” Miller said. “I’m really blessed.”

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 Twitter: @gateway_jon

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