Flag football wallops league, goes undefeated

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By Saveria Farino

Following their 41-0 win over Liberty on Feb. 7, members of the varsity flag football team smile from ear to ear knowing they are on their way to the playoffs. Photo courtesy of Amanda Burt

After taking out Liberty in a 41-0 blowout during the last game of the league season on Feb. 7, the undefeated varsity flag football team was off to the playoffs. With hard work, lots of practice, and team bonding, the Cougars were equipped to make their way to the state championship.

In the first game of playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the ladies dominated over the Eldorado Sun Devils. The Cougars stayed in the lead during the first half 27-6, but the Sun Devils fought back in the second half 14-13. Caitlin Shannon, junior, scored five touchdowns, and Marissa Pollak, junior, Reagan Raimer, junior, and Bryn Stieber, senior, each scored one touchdown. Junior Sydnee Hansen and senior Jensen Boman scored two touchdowns adding to the team’s victory. Wide receiver Boman caught seven receptions with 93 total yards. With the final score 41-19, the Cougars were ecstatic to be advancing in playoffs.

“It makes me happy to be able to contribute to our team’s success,” Boman said. “I can’t wait to see how we do in our next game.”

In the second round of playoffs the ladies played their rivals, the Foothill Falcons Thursday, Feb. 15. The Cougars vanquished the Falcons 27-6 in the first half and 7-0 in the second half. Shannon scored another five touchdowns along with her sister, freshman Erin Shannon, who scored two as well. Defensive back Raimer scored the final touchdown. In defense, linebacker Shawna Slater, senior, had six tackles and three interceptions. Beating their biggest competition 34-6, the Cougars felt confident going into the regional championship game against the Green Valley Gators.

“To mentally prepare for the Green Valley game, it was an all day focus,” Amanda Burt, junior, said. “From the moment I woke up that morning, the only thing on my mind was how badly I wanted my team to beat the Gators so we could move on to state. I definitely think everyone’s preparation helped us win the game because it helped us be more determined to bring home the win.”

The Cougars fought hard in an intense game against the Gators on Tuesday, Feb. 20. The Gators took the lead in the first half with only one touchdown and no extra point. Going into the second half 0-6, the ladies knew they had to turn up the heat.

Caitlin Shannon passed for 272 yard and had four touchdowns. She threw two deep touchdowns to Boman tying the game late in the fourth quarter. Boman finished with eight catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns. During double overtime, Erin Shannon scored the game-winning touchdown. The Gators came close to winning after scoring a touchdown, but their receiver was out of bounds during the two-point conversion. The second half ended 26-25 with the Cougars winning their second consecutive Sunrise Regional title.

“At first I thought they got it, and we lost, but then I found out they didn’t get it,” Erin Shannon said. “Everyone just stormed the field and started celebrating. We were going to state.”

Making state meant playing the Shadow Ridge Mustangs, and playing Shadow Ridge meant going up against senior running back and outside linebacker Jordan Ford who had 4,350 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns this season. The Cougs had their work cut out for them but were determined to get the W.

“Last year the team lost state, and this year we worked really hard to be undefeated,” Rachel Burt, freshman, said. “We didn’t want to lose especially in our final game together.”

So that no team had the home advantage, the Class 4A state championship game took place at Cimarron-Memorial High School on Thursday, Feb. 22. In the first half, the Cougars took a 19-6 lead over the Mustangs. Caitlin Shannon scored the first three rushing touchdowns of the game. The Cougars scored a touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth, getting the extra point for both. The Cougars had triumphed with a decisive 33-18 win.

The varsity flag football team has grown since losing their first playoff appearance in 2016. After being runners up in the 2016 regional game, they won the 2017 Regional Champions title but were crushed in the 2017 state championship against Cimarron. In the 2016-2017 school year their overall league record was 13-9. One year later, the athletes pushed themselves to the limits and conquered the field with an undefeated 22-0 league record. Not only were they stars on the field, they were also stars in the classroom. The team was awarded the All State Academic Champion Award for having the highest cumulative GPA out of all the teams in the league.To celebrate all of their achievements, the state champs gathered in the cafeteria on Friday, Feb. 23 for a team breakfast.