Sharpe eyes Florida foes

One of flag football’s top figures expects good results in an upcoming Florida tournament.

Cayman Islands Flag Football Association President Jermaine Sharpe states preparation is a big reason why local players can excel.

“We have a good chance at this tournament, we’re more prepared this year,” Sharpe said. “The women have more experience than the men do. But we’re doing the eight-man segment with the men, as opposed to the nine-man. People have had issues getting off work, we did eight-man in the I-Cup and we’re confident in that format.”

The association is sending teams to compete in the 42nd annual US Flag and Touch League National Flag Football Championships. Games will take place in Kissimmee, Florida this weekend on 18-20 January.

Suiting up for the men are Damian Barboram, Collin Bodden, Anthony Chin, Barrett Edri, Taj Haye, Nikolai Hill, Perry Levy, Chris Lucas, Brendon Malice, Nate Narcisse, Josh Parsons, Will Peguero Jr, Sharpe, Baron Solomon, David Taylor, Rhod Taylor and Andrew Wisdom. Of that group, 10 played on last year’s team, which placed ninth out of 12 squads in the nine-man ineligible category.

The ladies will feature Cassandra Bodden, Erica Bosch, Scimone Campbell, Alicia Dixon, Ann-Marie Douglas, Maggie Ebanks, Antoinette Lewis, Jessica Pawlik, Alexandria Saintvil, Nekita Saintvil, Camille Solomon, Treveen Stewart, Keisha Terry, Jahzenia Thomas, Emily Vaka’uta, Stephanie Watler, Denise Williams and Joanne Ziegler. Nine of those women played in 2012.

Sharpe states the roster will lead to flexibility with play-calling and personnel groupings.

“It’s a versatile team. Most of the guys can play many positions on the team. We have multiple quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs. We won’t give opponents one particular look because we can easily change the set-up on the field.”

Among the more interesting newcomers for the men are Edri, who served as quarterback for the Maples Packers in the summer league and Chin, who was among the notable contributors for the Burger King Panthers.

On the ladies side, Dixon makes the team after a stellar season for the Androgroup Killa-Panthers in the 2012 summer league while Jahzenia Thomas guided her Burger King Wolverines to the women’s championship.

Locals have participated in the Kissimmee event for years. In 2012, male and female teams represented the Cayman Islands association and the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association.

The official results showed the ladies had the best showing. The seven-man screen flag side placed fifth out of seven teams while the eight-man eligible unit finished ninth out of 18 squads.

In all, there were some 292 teams in 23 groups from Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and the US. All played at the Austin Tindall Sports Complex in Kissimmee, a manicured field used especially for flag football. The national championships were backed by entities like the Central Florida Sports Commission and the Florida Sports Foundation.

News of the Kissimmee competition comes after the Cayman Islands association staged its annual Caribbean Regional Cup tournament, often called the I-Cup, in December. Ed Bush field in West Bay would see the US mens team win for the second straight year, behind Chris Lucas, while the Jamaican women were victorious behind Antoinette Lewis.