This ain’t no Powder Puff game.
These athletes bring talents to the football field, passing and running the ball, pulling flags and scoring touchdowns.
And, yes, this is technically a non-contact sport, but these athletes also aren’t pulling any punches. Contact may happen occasionally during this 7-on-7 format because it’s inevitable. And it’s because these teams are good.
Hillsborough County has produced several state champions in this full, varsity sport, regulated by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA).
Flag Football district tournaments start on April 25.
For now, we’re going to take a look at the four teams in our coverage area and see just how they are set up this season.
Coach: Todd Broyles
Division: Class 1A-District 6
Outlook: The Patriots are a young team predominantly made up of freshmen, with just three seniors. However, that hasn’t stopped this team with a hot 4-0 record that outscored its opponents 96-6. The team with its great start looks to continue its winning ways deep into the postseason.
Player Rylee Texter says: “Our defense is pretty on point. Playing flag football is fun and competitive, and it’s not too serious where we get down on each other – we can uplift each other and just have fun.”
Coach Broyles says: “It’s a little cliche, but we’re getting better with every practice and every game. We may be a very young team, but they’re fast learners, very tenacious and quick to the ball. This is a great team.”
Coach: La’Shae White
Division: Class 1A-District 6
Outlook: The Patriots were a young team last year under coach La’Shae White, who was in her first season at the helm. And it showed, as they only won two games. This year, they have doubled that total, just five games into the season. Freedom put in a lot of offseason work and conditioning, and are out to show off its vast improvement from last season.
Player Ava Hanzelka says: “Compared to last year, we are doing great. We’ve made a lot of progress as a team and our relationships with one another. We’re a lot closer and we have a lot more fun together.”
Coach White says: “We were really locked in to get better in the offseason and so far its showing. Our girls are very competitive, but this is also fun for them. I think that’s very important to have out here.”
Coach: Greg Puskas
Division: Class 2A-District 7
Outlook: The Warriors are generally one of the better teams in the area, usually getting into some of the rankings. However, Puskas and company have a bit of a youth movement, and are adjusting to new faces. Steinbrenner is a very athletic team and will use several running plays with Kyra Patterson, a speedster that also runs track and field.
Player Elyse Thornton says: “We haven’t started as strong as we normally do, but we’re pushing through. Each game we’ve made progress and sometimes the results don’t show it, but we see how better we’re getting each time we come out.
Coach Puskas says: “We have a really young group, but I think we’re a really good-looking group, too. We’re looking to make a few moves, win some games and get some really good momentum headed into the playoffs.”
Coach: Dylan Shearon
Division: Class 2A-District 6
Outlook: The Wildcats, arguably, have one of the toughest schedules, especially since they faced Newsome in their first week, then Alonso and Robinson, respectively. That’s a tough stretch to open the season, but it better prepares Wharton and its players for the postseason.
Player Kassidy Russell says: “People underestimate the sport because they think it’s just pulling a flag, when really it’s a lot more technical skills and a lot of hard work — but still a lot of fun.”
Coach Shearon says: “Our team has a tendency to focus on the negatives, which we need to stop. We started off on a tough patch, but we got through that, and we’re talented enough to not focus on negatives and be just as good a team as we know we are.”
Published April 20, 2022
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.