AMESBURY — Tonight the football field at Landry Stadium belongs to the girls.
Amesbury High School's girls will play in the annual Powder Puff football game tonight at 6. The event is the same as a typical football game in every way except the field is full of females and there's no tackling allowed.
The Powder Puff game is a long-running tradition during Spirit Week at AHS. The girls' game is only a week before the Thanksgiving Day Newburyport vs. Amesbury boys football match, and the heated rivalry can bring tensions to a head. Amesbury's seniors and freshmen play against the juniors and sophomores.
"It's so fun," said Amesbury High School senior Laura Kaminski, who has played in the Powder Puff game for the past three years.
The community seems to agree. The stands are crowded every year, the players said. The boys football team usually shows up in full force with painted bodies and signs for their female counterparts. Alumni return to their home turf for the game and community members who aren't normally involved in the schools enjoy the show.
"The boys are like our cheerleaders," said senior player Anna Kate Webber.
The game is also a key fundraiser for the senior class. Tickets are $5, and all of the proceeds go toward Senior Week events at AHS, like the class trip and senior dance.
"It's a significant fundraiser. Last year, it brought in over $1,000," teacher Kathy Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin and Susan Hanscom are both AHS teachers and the senior class advisers, but say it's the students who do the bulk of the work.
Student Council treasurer Emily Noonan organized the chaperones and made sure there was enough equipment for everyone. A senior class member's father and his friends will serve as referees, and junior boys will act as the linemen. A senior boy has already offered to do the commentary from the press booth. English teacher Steve Bastien and science teacher Brett Manoloff will coach the senior and freshman team again this year, and the juniors and sophomores will be coached by three other teachers from the school district.
The girls say they take it pretty seriously. The teams have been practicing after school and on weekends for the past two weeks as players are expected to understand rules like off sides and false starts.
"They have playbooks and everything. It's the real deal," Webber said.
Old AHS football jerseys and matching pants are the Powder Puff uniform. The girls will also paint their faces in preparation.
"It's our warrior paint," joked Kaminski and fellow player Stephanie Valme.
This year's seniors lost the Powder Puff game last year as juniors and they don't plan to accept defeat again. But no matter who wins, Hanscom said it's a fun event for all.
"The students really look forward to it," she said.
What: AHS Girl's Powder Puff Game
Where: Landry Stadium, behind Amesbury Middle School
When: Tonight from 6 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $5 per ticket