Girls Flag Football Season Reaches the ‘End’ Zone



As the referee blows the whistle, quarterback Hannah Pascul-Florez signals for her center to snap back the ball. As the play begins, she calculates the best plan of action, throwing it to her most dependable receivers.

Starting center, senior Ariana Regalado snaps the ball as quarterback Hannah Pascul-Florez yells “hut”. The ball is snapped to Florez who then scouts for her most open players. Spiraling it towards her running back, Semra “Yasemin” Obuz catches the ball and sprints up the field. Dodging her hips around opposing flag-pullers, her team members do their best to block them away. As fast as her legs could take her, she runs to the end zone. Her coaches and team mates cheer her on from the sidelines. This easy touchdown was not always the case for the Lady Cavaliers Flag Football Team.

Starting try-outs early January, Coach Alton Stratchan, Coach Darren Collette and Coach Cunningham made it their mission to train girls to reach their best potential. As attending girls lessened in number, over 25 stayed throughout the two week trial period, marking their permanent spot in the 2022-2023 team. With the majority of the team comprising of underclassmen, coaches and fellow teammates were hopeful their growth would only continue throughout the season and the next few years.

“I definitely plan on returning in the future. I think as time goes on, my experience will become greater, and I can fix those past mistakes. I know my coaches and teammates will always help me improve and make me better than before,” freshman Florez said.

As the score settled at 32-18, the Stingrays and the Cavaliers lined up to high five each other, repeating the phrase, “good game” to every player. (CavsTV)

Practices continued every school day in preparation for upcoming games. Some athletes on the team had no previous experience, oblivious to football vocabulary and technicalities; others were returning athletes, trying to get back into the groove. Learning to catch balls, pull flags and build stamina, girls were tested through every drill and workout.

“Over time, I have seen my team grow in terms of skill, confidence and camaraderie. When the season first started, most of the girls were new to the sport and were still learning the basics. As the season progressed, we all got better at the game and grew more comfortable with each other, making for a more cohesive team,” junior Kiera Noriega said.

On March 8, the Cavaliers played against the Panthers from Miami Palmetto Senior High. Starting warm ups with high hopes yet ending the game with a sour face, the score came out to be 32-6. This losing pattern only continued. Letting flags pass right by them or being penalized for false starts, the initial matches of the season were rough. For every ball dropped, their frowns fell farther; it seemed as though the team had fallen victim to their own negative attitudes.

“We had a tough season because of our mindset. There was no will in the team, and without a will, there’s no way,” freshman Obuz said.

Following each game, practices became tougher, while the girls worked on keeping their spirits higher. Assessing their past mistakes, athletes came and put out their best on their training field. Ordered to run laps to and from the end zone and challenged to catch every forward pass, these student athletes soon learned the name of the game.

“I think we had a rough season towards the beginning, because we were still getting to know each other. The energy was low, and it all became a learning process. We made too many mistakes, and we weren’t in the zone when we should’ve been. However, we learned to overcome our difficulties,” sophomore Luna Santiago said.

Through each game, the girls got closer but had yet to reach victory. Moving the ball during their offensive plays and intercepting on defense, the team had begun to see their true progression on the field. However, as tough of a match they let out, the athletes were still not as successful as they hoped.

As senior night approached, they were determined to end the season off with a bang. Playing against South Miami Senior High School’s Cobras, the girls were faster and stronger than ever before, ending with 19-0.

After their victorious match against South Miami Senior High’s Cobras, the Cavaliers came together to celebrate Senior Night. Gifting their senior athletes baskets of flowers and their favorite snacks, the girls posed for a photo to memorialize their success.

Their victory meant the Lady Cavaliers were up against G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School for a spot at districts championship. Though they had previously lost an earlier game to Braddock, the girls used this rematch to redeem themselves. Using their same strategies, the girls won 14-7.

“Senior night was amazing, and the energy was definitely a huge factor in us winning. I do think that the support from the sidelines is also why we won,” sophomore Chiara Abad-Sanchez said.

Allowed further into the competition, their final match against Miami Southridge Senior High would determine their ranking. The Cavaliers put up a tough fight in the beginning quarters but unfortunately fell behind in the third and fourth quarter, costing them their success. The scoreboard read 20-0, finalizing their entire season.

Concluding the game, the girls united in a large huddle to complete their last post game ritual of the season. Despite the numbers on the scoreboard, coaches gave their last encouraging pep talks, and the team celebrated all their accomplishments of the year. Walking away with a sense of pride, the girls kissed the field goodbye ’til the next one.