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Flag football provides a rip roaring good time

There is no denying there’s a buzz in the air as fans have gathered in impressive numbers to catch high-school boys’ football action this fall.

But with more than twice as many teams as their male counterparts, the SDSSAA girls’ flag football ranks can make that same claim - and then some.

With three different divisions of play in action and each one containing no less than seven teams, there are plenty of great races to be found as teams hit the midway point of the 2022 fall schedule.

Accounting for all four of the Senior Division A championships since the league moved to seven v seven football in 2018, the Lasalle Lancers and Confederation Chargers appear headed on yet another collision course, with both teams boasting records of 3-0 and a head to head matchup scheduled for the afternoon of October 12th.

That said, four of those six combined victories have come by a single score or less, ensuring that the likes of the Horizon Aigles (2-2), Bishop Carter Gators (1-1) and whoever else slides into the playoffs is unlikely to go quietly into the night.

“I think this is the tightest I’ve ever seen the division as far as the parity in the league,” stated Lasalle head coach Lance Patrie. “The difference between the top six is not very much. It will be very interesting come playoff time where anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”

A big reason for that certainly lies with an ever increasing number of very dedicated coaches, folks who can find ways to put their teams in a better position to win, in spite of a season that runs less than two months long.

“I think at the beginning of the year, the focus for us anyways – and I think it’s the same for a lot of teams – is to focus a lot on getting your offense right,” suggested Patrie. “You want your timing to be down properly; everybody needs to know their roles. On defense, it’s more a matter of reacting to what the other team’s offense is doing.”

“But as you go through the season, you get to know other teams’ tendencies and you game plan to defend their systems, how they run certain players.”

Things are no less clear in the Senior Division B ranks with the logjam that is the Champlain Requins (3-0), the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères (2-0-1), the St Benedict Bears (2-1-1) and the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes (2-1) all within shouting distance of one another.

That said, in the coming weeks, Champlain is set to match up with both CND and ESMC, with Notre-Dame and St Benedict doing battle this week and the likes of the Marymount Regals set to play spoiler as they look to make a charge up the standings.

Still, there’s a case to be made that the most fun to be had can be found in the junior ranks, ten teams strong with Confederation (4-0) and Lasalle (3-0) currently showing the way. That said, eight of the ten teams have at least one win to their credit as the learning curve for so many young women learning the game for the very first time can be excessively exponential.

“I’ve been to watch a game before with my dad, but that’s pretty much it; I’ve never played football,” said Marymount freshman Cassidy Dutrisac. While there is some truth to the idea that defense is likely a little easier to coach to start, and perhaps a great place to initiate a newcomer to the game, this 14 year-old has other reasons for preferring to be on the defensive side of the ball.

“I play defense in hockey, in soccer I’m a defense, so it’s just what I assumed I would be playing,” said Dutrisac. “These are really aggressive sports and I’m a really aggressive person.”

And as many coaches will attest, that is a virtual necessity when it comes to trying to secure the flags of opponents who like to shimmy and shake, juke and jive, dart and dance their way right into the end zone.

“I go for their waist and not their upper half – and I make sure not to push them because that will give us a penalty.”

With her team coming off a season first 13-0 win over the Lively Hawks, Ava Fitzpatrick is the epitome of what a fearless defender should be, throwing caution to the wind to ensure that the flags are secured, by whatever legal means is available.

“I’m fast and good at ripping flags,” said the grade 10 second year member of the St Benedict Bears. “You can’t be scared. I run as fast as I can and I’m not scared to hurt myself – I just go for it.”

While offenses will try and mix things up, working both the run game and the aerial attack in search of success, Fitzpatrick has her own thoughts on where her strength lies in defending. “Passing plays are easier to tell where they are going,” she noted. “You can tell when the quarterback is looking at someone, and you always have your eye on them.”

And for the girls who monopolize the James Jerome field for as many as ten hours a day, early in the week, the truth is that there are an increasing number of eyes on them, with crowds filling in gradually during the day – easily enough to rival the boys.

Golf Sudbury