Success with a first year flag football team

I have been playing flag football for almost 10 years now and I enjoy it immensely. Last year, when we moved to Indianapolis, I was dismayed that I could not find a competitive league to play in. There are a number of weekly pick-up games, though, and through them I learned of a men’s church league and was invited to join a new team there.

New teams can be tricky. A “new” team that’s a split of an existing team with a few new players can often go far, they have a core that’s intact and capable. I ended up on a real new team, where only two members had played together previously and some had never played flag football before. Flag is quite different than regular football. There’s no downfield blocking, you can’t stiff arm, you can’t tackle. All of those lead to penalties or ejections and are often what trip up people new to flag rules, even if they’ve played some HS, College, or even NFL ball. You also lack any connection between players. The quarterback might under- or overestimate a receiver’s speed and end up throwing lots of picks.

For this reason, it’s no surprise that many new teams go 0-X, rarely going 1-X, and almost always losing badly in playoffs if they make it there. In the regular season, we went 1-6. We ended up losing our last regular season game to the #1 team 66-24. Ouch. That put us in last place, meaning we got to play them again the next week in the first round of the playoffs. It would be easy to foresee the loss and throw in the towel right away. I’ve seen lots of teams play a man down due to low attendance or even forfeit that game, knowing it would be a blow-out. Can’t blame anyone, you don’t get paid and some people drive an hour each way plus the game time.

Instead, our team stayed with it. We had more people show up than the previous week. We analyzed what went wrong and came up with a game plan. The opponents used a quick strike offense with timing routes, so we rushed often and played press. By halftime, their QB had thrown 3 picks and we managed to keep it tied. We ended up winning 28-27, scoring the go-ahead points with 12 seconds left. We surprised everyone just by showing up and wowed them by beating the #1 seed.

The next week, we had a matchup against the #2 team. We had the same number of people show up and we again put a game plan together. We had not played the team the week before so our game plan wasn’t quite as good. We went on to lose by one score, 47-42, bringing the team down to the wire.

It was a hell of a season. It was fun to fight adversity and come together as a team to victories, both real and moral. I can’t wait for the spring season to see where we go from here!

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