San Tan Cardinals flag football championship in their bracket

1202qc Grid Iron Football COLOR

The San Tan Cardinals flag football team beat the Queen Creek Titans Nov. 14 to win the championship in the 9- to 10-year-old age bracket.

The San Tan Cardinals fought hard in November to emerge as champions of the 2015 GridIron Flag Football season. Their effort and persistence led them to complete the season not only as champs, but also as the only undefeated team in their age group. They battled each week challenging and competing against other strong teams within the GridIron league.

GridIron Flag Football League is an athletic association that allows kids to both learn and compete in the game of football. GridIron has many leagues in various cities throughout the state of Arizona including one based out of Queen Creek. These leagues offer co-ed options for children ages 7-15 and present a safe and healthy environment for them.

The GridIron philosophy is, “To deliver a positive youth sports experience through better coaching, better player development, and keeping families excited about youth sports,” according to its website: Gridironflag.com. The league is open to kids of all levels and requires no previous experience. Priding itself on a realistic atmosphere, GridIron games are complete with five-on-five competition, a four-down system and other simplified aspects of the game that help keep the children challenged yet engaged.
All coaches are volunteers and are provided with a code of conduct used to protect and benefit the athletes. Coaching is an option to all parents provided that they follow the set guidelines and attain their coaching certification through the GridIron league.

Brian Almond, coach of the Indianapolis Colt’s team of 7- to 8-year-olds, is a prime example. He says his main focus for the team is to encourage good sportsmanship and to help the kids grow as young men and women.

In the playoffs, the top teams from both the Queen Creek and San Tan leagues competed against each other for the title of champion.

In the 9-10-year-old age group, the final games commenced on Nov. 14. The four most successful teams advanced to the semi-final games where the undefeated San Tan Cardinals played the San Tan Colts whose record was 4-4. Both teams played fiercely but ultimately, the Cardinals speed and long passing ability led to a 48-26 win over the Colts.

In the other bracket, the 6-2 Queen Creek Cardinals took on the 5-3 Queen Creek Titans. The Cardinals took an early lead scoring a touchdown at the start and continuing to dominate the game. But the Titans stayed focused and began a comeback that brought the score within one touchdown.

The Cardinals ability to run the ball with great speed was too much to handle for the Titans. The Cardinals made a full field run to score a touchdown and win the game 26-19.
The championship game took place later that day as the Cardinals of Queen Creek took on the Cardinals of San Tan. The game was expected to be a head-to-head battle as both teams had played very hard throughout the season and were prepared for the final game.

Both teams were very skilled in scoring. Because the San Tan team was dangerous from the quarterback position and the Queen Creek team was able to run the ball quite well, the game would ultimately come down to defense. The game began with touchdowns from both teams. Then, an interception by Queen Creek gave them possession of the ball. But San Tan quickly intercepted the ball right back and capitalized for an easy touchdown.

At halftime the score was close with the San Tan Cardinals leading 44-31. The teams regrouped and began the second half. It continued to be a back and forth battle as the teams competed for the top spot. But the San Tan’s passing excellence proved to be disastrous for Queen Creek. Slowly, they began to widen the lead and with about a minute, sealed the deal with one last touchdown. The San Tan Cardinals emerged as champions with a final score of 70-50.

During the season, home games are held locally on Saturdays at Desert Mountain Elementary School, 22301 S. Hawes Road in Queen Creek, while away games are held at South Valley Junior High in Gilbert. Spectator admission is free and is welcome to all.

The next season begins in the winter and registration is open and can be completed online at Gridironflag.com. There is a one-time fee of $129 per player. This is fully inclusive of a reversible uniform and flag belt. Players must supply their own mouth guard to play. Cleats are recommended but not required. After the payment is completed, players will be assigned to a specific team within their appropriate age category and will receive more detailed information such as information about practices, schedules and game times etc., as dictated by their coach. Parents do have the option to request a specific coach.

Any further questions can be answered by visiting the website at GridIronFlag.com.

Editor’s note: Micah Wilson is a student writer from San Tan Valley who is interested in a career in sports journalism.

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