The flag football scene in Cayman has plenty of colourful characters which makes it one of the most interesting and entertaining sports to watch.
The playoffs started over the weekend and the Caybrew Farm Soldiers took on their perennial nemesis Goldfield Hellcats. Caybrew won in another nailbiter which means they’ll play Dog House in the final on Saturday.
Caybrew have come along quickly in their five years. They started as Café Del Sol in 2003.
This was the year that flag football made its transition from a group of guys getting together every Saturday playing football to an organized league with corporate sponsors.
The team was lead by Cayman Islands Flag Footall Association hall of famer Badir ‘No Fear’ Awe who unfortunately only played one season due to injury.
That year Café Del Sol met the West Bay Hellcats in the final. Up until recently it was the most famous game as it took four overtimes to determine who the better team was that day. That day belonged to the Hellcats but the loss only made Café Del Sol stronger.
In 2004 with a new sponsor, Durty Reid’s, the team that lost in the finals found out that they would have to make another run without their fearless leader.
The team looked within themselves for another leader. What they got were two super players; offensive juggernaut Leslie ‘MVP’ Harvey and defensive specialist Rhys ‘R Capone’ Ebanks.
That was also the year that the league got its own website www.flaggers.ky which keeps player stats, league info and a forum.
Both players dominated their respective categories with Harvey taking the MVP title.
The Durty Reid Raiders went on win that year with a dominating 21-0 demolition of team Tribe, who ironically beat the Hellcats the week before. Chants of: ‘Whose house? Reid’s House!’ could be heard as far as Miami.
In 2005 the Raiders had repeat on their minds. Armed with the same personnel and the addition of some there was no doubt in their minds that the title was theirs for the taking, but the football gods had other plans.
Although they had a sensational year and beat the Hellcats for the first time, albeit a regular season game, they were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Davey Jones Locker Pirates, the team formally known as Tribe.
West Bay went on to win the title yet again, and the rivalry between the Hellcats, Pirates and Durty Reid Raiders was in full effect.
It was time for a change two years ago. Local entrepreneur Luigi ‘Hova’ Moxam decided to sponsor the team and they were now called the ONE 345 Farm Soldiers.
Moxam also decided to try himself at the most crucial position, quarter back. He surprised the league with his maturity and QB intelligence.
Had you not followed the league you would have thought he was a veteran at the position and not a rookie.
Knowing that they were in need of another defensive spark team, R Capone recruited his partner in crime Brad ‘Habachi’ Conolly (Shake and Bake).
With R Capone, Habachi and Harvey on the field at the same time, opposing teams were wary as most offenses chose to attack the side of the field that they were not on.
They also had another defensive power, Chester ‘Teflon’ Hurlstone who set the league record in quarterback sacks with 14.
Everything seemed to be going in the right direction until late August when Harvey decided to further his education abroad and R Capone was sent overseas for a one month training course.
The Farm Soldiers played like warriors with their skeleton roster and would still make the playoffs but would succumb to the Next Level Nightmares.
That year’s final was dubbed the ‘the finals that no one wanted to watch’, this was mostly because neither the Hellcats, Farm Soldiers nor Pirates were present. ALT Hammers went on to beat the Nightmares in a surprisingly exciting game.
By 2007 who could have predicted the outcome of this season? The Farm Soliders became the Digicel Spartans, armed with the same weapons and even hungrier for that elusive title.
The Spartans came out firing but they could not match the fire power of the Margaritaville Hellcats. The Spartans lost to the Hellcats in the regular season with a dramatic late game touchdown. But that did not shatter the Spartans’ confidence.
They would not lose another and were ready to fired up for the final. That team were their arch-rivals, holding a season record of 12-0, the Hellcats. The game was one for the history books but the Hellcats were once again the better team posting a 12-6 victory.
This season posed many questions. Would the Hellcats retain another perfect record?
Could the Next Level Nightmares (now the Dog House Bull Dogs) take their game to another level?
Could the re-emergence of the Pirates erase the label of a nearly team. Could the Spartans (now the CayBrew Farm Soldiers) dig deep down and take what they truly believe was theirs?
At the end of Week 5 it looked like two of those questions would be answered. CIFFA’s most notorious quote would be spoken by the poet R Capone. The Farm Soldiers embarrassed the Hellcats with an 18-6 beat down.
In a post game interview in this paper, Capone was asked what enabled the Farm Soldiers to soundly defeat the Hellcats. He responded: ‘It doesn’t matter how good you are, pressure busts pipe. That’s physics.’
With team and league MVP Leslie Harvey leaving for school earlier than normal the Farm Soldiers found themselves in a familiar situation.
Who could they turn to keep their championship dreams alive? They had many.
Defensive specialist Brad Conolly decided he would no longer live in the shadow of the MVP.
He responded immediately the following week with a breath taking and ESPN worthy 60 yard touchdown on the very first play of the game.
Next in line was Will ‘Ill Will’ Peguero who makes you want to keep your eyes on every play with his spectacular and impossible receptions.
Not to be outdone by anyone Jeff ‘Ching Ching’ Wight also displayed brilliance on both sides of the ball.
And the biggest surprise of the year has been the colourful Tito ‘I Got Peoples’ Solomon who shows that he can make a tackle regardless of the opposition, recording nine tackles in one game.
So far the Farm Soldiers have split games with the Hellcats and just came off what will surely be called the game of the season against the Bull Dogs. This was one game where not even time could decide the better team.
After three thrilling overtimes, the game where each offense scored, it ended in a stalemate in pitch darkness in a 18-18 tie.
What’s in store for the Farm Soldiers? Will they continue to improve or will their fate be the same as years gone by?
On paper they appear to have an average team. In reality they have the best O-Line in the league led by the Graham brothers, Andrew ‘Silence’ and Nicolas ‘Dappa’.
Their D-Line is led by none other than the Tru Warrior Edison ‘Fada Pow’ Jackson. And no team would be complete without a sure handed Tight End aka Celester ‘Skillz’ Anderson.
This year they were guided by the ever controversial Johann ‘Pirate Killa’ Moxam. And rounding off the team are Oliver ‘Dark Star’ Parker, Renford ‘Ace’ Barnes aka Mr Smooth, Andrew ‘Cojack’ Webb, the ever confident Eckard ‘EQ’ McField and the gentle giant McCarron McLaughlin. Missing due to school, Mike ‘Streaks’ Carey, Jamaal ‘Rudeboy’ Anderson and George ‘Juggernaut’ Bustillo.