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East, West girls take to grid iron in powder-puff match-up

May 12, 2011 at 12:12 a.m.

Junior Chelsye Hernandez, left, and senior Autumn French share a laugh while learning how to snap the ball at Victoria East High School on Wednesday. East will face a team of female West High athletes in a powder-puff football game Friday.

A.C. Cruz does everything on and off the playing field with panache.

The senior softball player will take her confidence and style to a new playing field Friday as she and her Victoria East classmates take on the West High School in powder-puff football.

A.C., the softball team's centerfielder, will be the running back for the East team against Victoria West.

Her signature "swag walk" from her softball play could make a re-appearance in the end zone should she make it there.

The game is billed as "The Battle for the High Heel," a play on the East-West rivalry in football, which has been termed, "The Battle for the Boot."

"I'm so ready for that," she said. "Maybe I will when I get to the touchdown."

Gabbie Luna, a senior at Victoria East, said all of it would be in good fun and doesn't expect the game to keep a friendly tone.

After all, the girls were classmates and teammates at this time last year.

"I'm not a very cocky person, but I might get a little excited," she said. "We're going to try and keep it calm and as nonviolent as we can. They're our friends."

Both teams have been practicing for the last week and a a half, preparing to square off against one another.

"We've got plans to execute our plays, go hard, run hard, look for the ball and who's open," A.C. said. "We're going to give it 100 percent."

Tuesday, the East team was on the practice field running offensive and defensive drills similar to those seen during preseason football practice. The offensive team was learning how to block and run the option from several graduating East football players, including lineman Kohlton Tegeler and receiver Jamie Thomas.

Not all the girls participating are seniors.

The typical perception that both teams are composed of cheerleaders is far from the truth, they said.

A.C. said she had been waiting for the opportunity to participate.

"I got asked, and I was waiting for my senior year to play," she said. "I got really excited when I was asked to play. I was like, 'Yeah, sure!'"

A.C. has played softball for four years - first for Memorial, now Victoria East.

Gabbie and Christina Luna, both seniors, played volleyball and will play cornerbacks opposite each other on defense, Gabbie said.

Most of the girls come from all manner of sports, and yes, there are some cheerleaders on the team.

"Most every girl out here has played in some sport or has athletic ability," A.C. said. "It's a mixture of everybody."

Both teams figure to be surprised at who each other has on the field. Gabbie was still unsure Tuesday who will be opposite her.

"We honestly have no idea who they have, really," she said.

The game will look similar to the one the boys play, with some changes. Neither team will wear pads, instead opting for flag football.

The hits and tackles seen on the boys gridiron each fall probably won't be part of Friday's contest.

That doesn't mean it will be a pillow fight.

"Football's a different sport for girl," Gabbie said. "I play volleyball, and it's a lot more physical than that."

No matter, Gabbie said she'll be out there to have fun and to prove that she can, indeed, hang with the guys.

"It's always fun for girls to come out and play guys' sports, just to say you can play a guy's sport," she said. "I like to play, it's a fun game."



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