Packers fight champs for respect

All eyes figure to be on the two best teams in men’s flag football.

The 7-1 dms West Bay Hellcats face the 5-2 Maples Packers in the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association. Ed Bush field in West Bay will serve as the venue this Saturday, 18 August, at 1.30pm.

For association president Jermaine Sharpe, the clash between the league’s top two squads figures to be a slugfest as both offences are clicking.

“The marquee game is the Packers against the Hellcats,” Sharpe said. “West Bay are the reigning three-time champions while Maples literally came out of nowhere and have been on a roll.

“The Packers are the team to watch out for but I’d look for Perry Levy of West Bay to be the offensive star. The credit for Maples’ success rests on the offensive line with Andrew Graham as the veteran leading the group.”

West Bay are on a four-game win streak and are coming off a 20-14 victory last Saturday over the Cox Colts in a rematch of the 2011 finals. Quarterback Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks leads the offence with a league-best 23 touchdowns while completing 66.4 per cent of his passes. His favourite target has been Levy, who leads all receivers in receptions (31) and touchdowns (10).

Maples, who have players like kicker Terry Ballard, sport a five-game win streak and are coming off a bye week. Their last match was a 20-6 thumping of the Colts on 4 August. Barrett Edri has dazzled as a rookie in the pocket with 10 passing touchdowns and a league-best six rushing TDs. He has connected often with William Peguero Jr, who has a team-high 15 receptions and three TDs.

Association vice president Brad Conolly states the Packers need to win to prove they are a legitimate title contender.

“The Maples-Hellcats game is the biggest game of the season,” Conolly said. “Maples are on a five-game winning streak and if they win, they’ll show that they’re for real.”

Saturday’s other contests pit the 0-8 PWC Renegades against the 3-5 Cox Colts at 2.45pm with the 5-3 Club House Bulldogs battling the 3-4 Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes at 4pm. PWC sit in seventh place, last in the league standings, after being shut out in two consecutive weeks. Cox are now in fifth place and outside of a playoff spot.

Club House gave PWC their latest beating, a 40-0 drubbing last Saturday, putting them in second place on points. The Hurricanes, who are sixth, are fresh off a 13-12 win last week over the Burger King Panthers, who are holding on to fourth at 4-4.

Sharpe, who is a defensive end for the Panthers, feels the Hurricanes offer the most intrigue out of that group.

“The Hurricanes are made up of some new and experienced players. They are very athletic and they have the capability. Their personalities and us-against-the-world mentality works against them sometimes.

“However, they are a team to be reckoned with and they have the offensive and defensive capabilities. Guys like Davelee ‘Bull’ Cole (the defensive player of the week with seven tackles and a sack) showed their potential against the Panthers.

“PWC versus Cox is an any-given-Sunday-type game. I give PWC the most credit because they show up every Saturday, regardless of who they play. I like their effort every time they hit the field. An upset could happen as they’ve beaten teams they have no business beating before.”

The Hurricanes are riding a two-game win streak behind dynamic hurler Glenn Duran Jr’s nine TDs. Baron and Nigel Solomon have been the catalysts at wide-out with 27 catches and six TDs between them.

Conolly, who stars for the Colts, is not sure the Hurricanes are for real.

“It’s hard to tell with the Hurricanes, they’re very inconsistent. They beat the Hellcats yet they struggled to beat PWC. After week three, most people’s attitude towards them is whatever they do, they do.

“It’s hard to class them, you don’t know which team you’re going to get. Yet, they are still in the playoff hunt and they might find their way into the playoffs.”

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