Woodstock Flag Football Debuts

Staff Writer: Mackenzie Rich

This year is Woodstock’s first year of having a girl’s flag football team. Every school in Cherokee County has formed a team this year. Flag football is not a typical or common sport in high schools. However, over time, this sport will be more regulated and just another high school sport.

The team is coached by Coach Manderano, Coach Wren, and Coach Mize. Tryouts were held on Oct. 1-3 with nearly 50 girls coming out to play. After final cuts, the team of 29 will take the field for Woodstock in the inaugural season.

Flag football is not to be confused with “powder puff”. Flag football is far more official, and the season will run longer. Additionally, it will soon be a sport that will even offer a sports letter. However, since it is the first year and the kinks are still being worked out, no letters will be given out this year.

When Woodstock senior, Mahin Olive, was asked about his thoughts of having a girl’s football team, he claimed, “It is only fair that girl’s get a chance to play the game too, even if there had been modifications to the game. I can’t wait to see how the season plays out for the girls.”

On Sept. 14, a flag football clinic was held at the Woodstock stadium. The clinic was free and was open to any CCSD girl wanting to try out for the sport. Coach Manderano and Coach Wren were there to teach the basic rules of the game and some plays that we would later use in the game.

The team practices Monday through Thursday. Games are held on Tuesdays starting on Oct. 22. Every Tuesday, the schools of Cherokee County travel to one Cherokee County school where three games will be played. This will happen until every team has played each other.

The team with the best record after the Round Robin format will move on to the state playoffs. These state playoffs are held at the Mercedez-Benz stadium in Atlanta.

Flag football is a very minimal contact sport, unlike football. A “tackle” is replaced by flag pulling. Any sort of hand-on-girl contact would be a foul. The belts are held on by a clip; however, it takes a strong grasp and pull to get the flags down. The field is also marked to be smaller than the typical football field. The endzones lie at the 10 yard-line, and the sides are marked by the boy’s lacrosse lines.

Grasping the basic understandings of the game was a struggle for some players in the beginning. The girls that were “raised on football” had it easy, as they understood the game very well. However, for some girls, it was their first time picking up a football. This posed a challenge and lots of confusion, but with more practice it was figured out.

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Sarah Gurley (12th) and Avelina Meysar (10th) practicing dodging and pulling flags. Photo courtesy of Emma Gilson.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, a jamboree was held at the Woodstock stadium. This was a scrimmage-type setting where each team would get the chance to play a few others. Woodstock played Etowah at 11:30, and Cherokee at 1:30.

Although it had been 40 degrees and rainy, our girls did outstanding. They beat Etowah 12-0, and tied up with Cherokee 6-6. Peyton Bebow scored the first touchdown of the season with a pass from Jamie Stark. Many flags were pulled, and Grace Vasarella even made a beautiful interception.

Reece Morrish, Woodstock sophomore and defensive linebacker, says that she “fell in love with the sport immediately, practice could be frustrating at times but once we all hit the field together it was all worth it.”

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Woodstock’s big win over Etowah, score 12-0. Photo credits to WHS Athletic Activity.

On the offensive line, a center snaps the ball to the quarterback where she then decides to either run it or pass the ball off. There are four receivers, including the center, and two guards. The guards try to prevent the defense from “tackling” (pulling the flags of) the quarterback. The receivers run out in different paths usually decided by the quarterback and the coach. When they catch the ball, it is a challenge to then weave through the defense while still maintaining their flags and run to the end zone to score a touch-down.

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Defense vs. Offense line up in practice, photo courtesy of Emma Gilson

On the defensive line, there is a push and mirror player, two corners, two safety players, and one line-backer. The push player rushes the quarterback on her dominant side in an attempt to push her to her non-dominant side. Pushing her to her non-dominant side would hinder any passes she makes. The mirror player mirrors her movements to block her out. The push and mirror must go around the guards, as they are there to protect their quarterback. If a pass is made to a receiver, the line-backer and corner players are the first to go at the girl and strip her flags. If this fails, the safety players will take over, hopefully stopping her as the last line of defense.

Woodstock junior and offensive guard, Karla Alonso, says, “I hope for a great season and can’t wait to eventually play at the Mercedez-Benz stadium with my team!”

 

 

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