As flag football winds down for 2012, Kevin Solomon and Rhys Ebanks are contemplating their future.
Stalwarts of the sport for about a decade, both were rumoured to be retiring after a lackluster season with the Cox Colts in the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association.
Ebanks, 32, states he is in fact ready to hang up his cleats.
“Well I started flag in 2003 and have enjoyed playing the game and the rivalries that go on within the sport,” Ebanks said. “That being said, I believe this indeed is my last year of playing flag football. It’s come to a point now where I don’t find the game fun. I’m not sure how much this season played a role in my decision but it surely didn’t tip the scale to return next year. I don’t feel like jumping on a powerhouse team just to win.
“I’ve won two championships so I don’t have the “need” to win and I don’t want to go on a new or rebuilding team. A few of us have toyed with the idea of creating a team but that, honestly, is too stressful to take on. So I think it’s time that I say goodbye. Ideally, I would’ve loved to go out a champion or at least leave with a better season than this but in a way I think it makes it easier.”
The tight-end/linebacker, who lives in Savannah and is originally from West Bay, would see his Colts finish with an abysmal 4-8 record this year. Cox would miss the playoffs and end up sixth out of seven teams.
That form, at the Ed Bush field in West Bay, represented a drastic departure from their performance in 2011. The Colts, in their inaugural season, would advance to the finals, where they lost to Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks and dms West Bay Hellcats. Interestingly, Rhys Ebanks had a phenomenal campaign with a team-high 10 receiving touchdowns.
Solomon, the first-string quarterback, was also disheartened by Cox’s form but intends to remain a Colt.
“I’ve played a lot of flag football in these islands,” Solomon said. “As a competitor, I always want to win but I’ve already won two championships so it’s not solely about winning for me. I’m getting married in a couple of months, so my focus is a little different at this stage.
“I will take a look and reassess things but that doesn’t mean I will be walking away from a sport that I love and enjoy playing. I don’t plan on retiring and I’m not planning on stepping aside. Whether I play quarterback or another position, or consider coaching, we’ll see.
“What I do know is there’s a lot of pressure on you as the quarterback and I wouldn’t mind handing off the reigns to a guy like Stiffler, Richard Campbell, and showing him the ropes. I enjoy the sport and will do it as long as I can. Besides Uncle Dave, David Nielsen, still has some years on me and continues to be an inspiration.”
Both Ebanks and Solomon were left off the national team that competed in Nassau, Bahamas last weekend at the annual invitational tournament staged by the Bahamas Flag Football League. The roster was dominated by dms players, with eight Hellcats making up the 20-man roster, after West Bay won their fourth straight championship this season, their seventh title in nine years.
Interestingly, Cox were represented by Andrew Frederick and Chester Hurlston. Solomon’s omission is somewhat surprising as he guided the national team to the finals last year, alongside Frederick.
With a beach tournament and a knock-out competition on the horizon, flag football has a number of events planned before the calendar year ends. It seems unlikely that either Ebanks or Solomon will participate. Instead, both men want to see their Colts rebound in 2013.
“The Cox Colts’ future completely depends on the core group that is left,” Ebanks said. “I think there is a general feeling regarding the team that they will somehow need to erase to ensure they recruit the right pieces. I was told on numerous occasions by players that they would’ve loved to join our team but didn’t for a particular reason.
“But I do hope they do well as the league needs to have more competitive teams. As it stands now, I think the only two teams that can truly say they will contend are the Club House Bulldogs and West Bay.”
“Everyone wants to win but there can only be one championship winner,” Solomon said. “The focus needs to be on encouraging and developing players and having fun, that way we all win.
“There are some changes in the Colts I’m expecting to see. I hope we will revisit the reason we started the team: to encourage young guys to get out and enjoy the sport. We lost focus of that last year, given the addition of some veteran players. As we try to rebuild, that’s something we need to revisit.
“At this point, I’d also like to say thank you to the sponsor, Cox Lumber Ltd. We have received great support from them and the team should be in a position to build and go back to the core goal because of them.”