By Kyle LoJacono
For every football player who makes it to the National Football League, there are thousands who gave up on that dream for a more traditional profession.
For all those dreamers, the Pasco 4on4 Flag Football League is a place for adults to play out their football fantasies.
“We started the league partially just to have a place to get some exercise while playing football,” said Jason Rice, events director for the league. “Most of us love football but weren’t good enough to play. I didn’t even play for my high school team.”
Rice, 35, attended Hudson High School and only played organized football in the Pasco Police Athletic School with the Hudson Cobras where he played wide receiver.
There are three divisions in the Pasco County League. The central division plays Monday nights at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway, and its next season begins March 15. The southern and northern divisions play in Holiday and Hudson respectively.
The league, which is partnered with the Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department, is tied with the Tampa 4on4 League. The Tampa association was originally part of Ultimate Flag Football, but became part of 4on4 about five years ago. Rice and several others in the league decided to start a Pasco version last year.
“This is our third season, but the Pasco league is less than 1-year-old,” Rice said. “I actually play in both the Pasco and Tampa league. We have some players who play in all three of the Pasco divisions and the Tampa league each week. When you love football it’s hard to stay away.”
Steve Deboskey of Lutz has been in the league since it started.
“It’s great to have a place to run around and stay in shape,” Deboskey said. “I have to keep up with my 6-year-old son (Justin) who is getting into sports, so I have to have a lot of energy.”
Justin plays for the Land O’ Lakes Gators flag football team in i9 Sports. Deboskey played in the Tampa league for seven years when it was part of Ultimate Flag Football.
The 4on4 league has A and B classes based on skill. Rice said players in the A class usually played in high school and even college, while those in the B class generally have little to no experience.
The central division will have 12 teams this season, six for each class. Organizers said people from Wesley Chapel, Lutz, Zephyrhills and Dade City have signed up for the next season. One of the players from Wesley Chapel is Steve Aaron.
“I started playing just as a way to have a good time and get some exercise,” Aaron said. “It really is a great time out there each week.”
Each team has between four and eight players, but only four can be on the field at one time. The only set offensive positions are the quarterback and center. The other two can line up wherever they want.
The fields are 25-yards wide and 50-yards long with seven-yard long end zones. Tackling is not allowed.
While it looks a lot like traditional football, its rules make size and strength overrated.
“4on4 is all about plays,” said Bobby Fox, league co-director. “It helps to be fast, but a team with good plays and average speed can be very successful.
“Teams start on the five-yard line and have three plays to cross mid-field and then three plays to score. The games are played to 30 points or 28 minutes. It is action packed.”
Deboskey agrees with Fox.
“It is really different from tackle football and the skills needed are completely different,” Deboskey said. “Being 250 pounds doesn’t really help when you can’t tackle and it can really hurt you when you’re trying to grab someone’s flag. It’s much more important to be quick and know what your teammates are doing.”
Players must be at least 18-years-old and can be either male or female, but most participants are men in their 30s.
“We’ve had some women play, but we’ve never had a completely women’s team or co-ed league,” Fox, 37, said. “We are open to more women signing up though.”
The teams play two games each week for five weeks followed by a week of divisional playoffs. Each division will send its first and second place team in both classes to the league championship tournament, called the Pasco Cup.
“Our league will culminate with the Pasco Cup in April in Hudson this season to determine the best team in Pasco,” Fox said. “There is some good football played at that tournament each season.”
It costs $295 to start a team with the league, or people can join as free agents who are placed on a team for $50. The deadline to register is March 11.
“I wish more people would join in,” Deboskey said. “The more teams we have the better.”
HOW TO JOIN
- Visit pasco4on4.com
- Call (813) 313-8498 or (727) 992-3010
- E-mail or
- Call (877) 771-3524
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