Burger King won’t be grilled

They may be called Burger King
Panthers but they don’t intend to get a grilling against Spin 94.9FM Hellcats
in the flag football final tomorrow. Player-coach Brendon Malice is convinced
that just like last weekend when Burger King scored an upset surprise victory
against the Calabash Soldiers, they can do it again against the defending

Calabash were the first place seed
and Burger King were seeded fourth.  Calabash
jumped out to a 6-0 lead and Burger King responded with a last second score
before half-time. “The touchdown inspired our team,” Malice said. “We scored
again just after half-time and converted on the extra point to take a 13-6 lead
over Calabash. Glen Duran, the Calabash quarterback, lead his team down the
field to tie the game up with less than three minutes left.  Both teams had a chance to win before regular
game time ended.”

The score remained 13-13 heading
into over time. In over time each team had the football on their opponents’ 10
yard line and were given four downs to score and then convert for the extra
point. BK went first on offense and Ryan Smith ran in for a 10 yard touchdown.
Neal Appleby caught the extra point to put BK up 20-13. The next series Glen
Duran connected with Lesley Harvey which made the score 19-20 in favour of BK.
Calabash went for a two point conversion to win the game rather than tie it.
The attempt was unsuccessful as Ransford Welcome played spoiler by knocking
down the go ahead pass to give Burger King a sensational one point

Malice puts his team’s success down
to terrific team spirit and sheer hard work. “It was down to commitment to
getting better and not quitting on each other. Most teams in our small flag
football league fall apart during or after a losing season. Our team chemistry
has brought us together.  Last year we
were a new team and lacked experience. This year some experienced players
joined BK that had good qualities to offer and the combination of both have
helped make us a contender.  

Wide receiver Ryan Smith has been
brilliant again for BK. He played four years of high school football receiving
All League honours. He also lettered in baseball, basketball and golf. He
played baseball at collegiate level for two years before officially retiring
and then was recruited to play receiver at the same college where he played
baseball, but did not pursue college football due to his small stature. Last
year was his first attempt at flag football.

Malice picks out players like Neil
Clements, Neal Appleby, Jermaine Sharpe, Chris Allen, Jonathan Carter, Craig
Coe, Anthony Chin as well as   Smith for
props. “They have all helped shape this team into a contender. Rarely do they
miss practice and they are always willing to sacrifice for the team. Without
seamless players like them our hopes of playing for a championship would have
been lost months ago.”

Against Calabash, Malice said:
“BK’s strategy was to play as a team and support each other and also to play
smart and poised football by eliminating penalties, not turning the ball over
and most importantly forcing the opponent to beat us rather us beating

Did Calabash coach Johann Moxam’s
boasts in the Caymanian Compass inspire the Panthers? “Opponents’ trash talk in
the media just fuels the focus you need to perform on the field,” said Malice.
“Whether or not you have a personal vendetta against a player or coach doesn’t
really change how you prepare mentally for a game in flag football. If you
concentrate on your individual job during each play, that is usually your best
bet. That said, if it was tackle football and we had pads on, that would be a
different story. “I would have found the trash talkers on the first play and
legally lit them up so they realised that when you talk nonsense from your
mouth you get a return helmet in your mouth pretty quick. It’s really easy to
talk from the sideline, or in the papers, when you don’t have to put your
physical well being on the line come game time.

“We’ve been the underdogs almost
every game, but we always felt a couple of plays going our way instead of the
opponents’ and we would have won a lot more regular season games. That gave us
extra confidence when entering the playoffs as we knew we had the ability to
compete with every team. Now we get the chance to try and dethrone the champs
which is all you can ask for.”

BK lost twice to the Hellcats in
the regular season, 13-0 and then only 19-18. “I truly feel each time we played
West Bay our team got better physically but we were making too many mental
errors that lead to big plays for them. When you play against a team like West
Bay who have a boat load of talented players you tend to forget how smart they
are and how well they can play as a unit. That’s why it will be so important
against them that we stick to our game plan and eliminate mental mistakes.  

“This is going to be an
in-your-face grudge match. It’s no secret that West Bay likes to play physical
football. We did not make it to the finals expecting to play a soft football
team. Burger King prepared for this by beating each other up at practice twice
a week for 14 weeks because we knew we would have to play tough teams to have a
shot at the championship. 

“Obviously, the hard work is paying
off because we have the opportunity to play for the 2010 title. Ultimately, it
all boils down to playing football. They have players who can run fast and
catch footballs, but we have the same. They have big offensive linemen who can
block, but so do we. They have really good defensive players,  we do too. The only thing that West Bay have
that we don’t is previous championships and respect. So we are out to earn both
this week. We know it will be a hard fight, but we are hungry for the
championship trophy and for the respect that this underestimated, hard working
team deserves.”


Burger King Panthers have dramatically im-proved. Back row, from left, Alex Angel, Neil Appleby, Jonathan Carter, Rohan Marshall, Steve Ebanks, Brendon Malice, Craig Coe, Jimmy Forde, Neil Clements, Ike Ihim, Ryan Smith. Front low, from left, Selkirk Watler, Barron Solomon, Ransfor Wel-come, Paul Chin, Chris Allen, Jermaine Sharpe, Tito Solomon, Aiden Clements, Marc Chin. Missing from this picture: Rod Taylor, Simon Rivers, Julius Blackwell, Chris Orlandini and Anthony Chin.
Photo: Ron Shillingford