The Burger King Panthers are halfway towards a spotless season.
The Panthers are the last unbeaten team in the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association 2013 Digicel Summer League. Burger King, 6-0, notched its latest win last Saturday in week six of the 12-week season, by beating the 4-1-1 Maples Dolphins, 14-13.
Burger King captain Brendon Malice states the win paves the way for a championship bid.
“We’ll build as a team. We all support one another and only good things can come from here,” Malice said. “I think you will see us compete for the championship this year. We just got to do the little things and eliminate mistakes.
“We have game plans for our games each week. Things happen, like injuries and people going away for vacation, we just got to deal with it when it comes.”
Saturday represented Burger King’s closest brush with defeat at the Ed Bush Sports Centre in West Bay. Maples played a physical game in support of quarterback Leslie Harvey and had a 7-0 lead heading into the final seconds of regulation.
A controversial penalty put Burger King near the end-zone, Taj Haye caught a pinpoint pass from Panthers QB Chris Lucas and an extra-point kick forced the game into overtime.
Nicholas Roberts had a TD catch to put Maples ahead, but Dolphins kicker Terry Ballard missed the extra point, opening the door for Lucas to find Haye for another score and Burger King’s special teams combo of David ‘Swaggy’ Taylor and Simon Rivers converted the winning extra-point.
Malice states those players will be key for future success this season.
“Chris has the most important position on the team. Paul Chin and Jonathan Carter bring intensity each week and energise the other guys on both sides of the ball. David has done well and Ryan Smith has rejoined the team; at running back he chews up yards and helps our offence by putting pressure on opposing defences.
“I think the combo of Chris and Ryan in the backfield is deadly and they have a good supporting cast around them as well.”
Maples, who started the year undefeated through five games, have now dropped to third in the Men’s Premier League standings. The Lone Star Mustangs, 5-1, leaped into second, thanks to a 6-0 triumph over the 1-5 Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes. Lone Star have been led by Jamie Stephen at quarterback.
For Maples veteran Rupert Whittaker, the focus is not on the loss but on the players who will guide the Dolphins to the playoffs.
“There are guys who are stepping up and playing well,” Whittaker said. “Obviously, Will Peguero Jr. and Barrett Edri are key parts of the team going forward. But Davanni James has really stepped up on the defensive line, Jordan Cacho is one of the best running backs in the league, Christopher Bennett makes catches and Nicholas is becoming a real good safety who has picked up on D quickly.”
Outside of Maples, Lone Star and preseason title favourites Burger King, the rest of the rankings see Clay Coleman and reigning four-time champs dms West Bay Hellcats in fourth at 4-2 followed by Sonny Powell’s 2-1-3 Cox Colts, Glenn Duran Jr.’s 1-5 Hurricanes, Jeff Wight’s 1-5 KPMG Sharks and Theon McCoy’s 0-6 WestStar Saints.
For the ladies, the CrossFit 7Mile Scorpions are no longer undefeated in the Women’s Premier League. CrossFit, now 5-1, lost on Saturday to 3-3 Ultra B’zzz, 12-19. Keisha Solomon stepped in as Scorpions QB with the absence of Jessica Pawlik and Marleena Smith steadied the B’zzz offence.
In spite of the loss, CrossFit still top the ladies. The Scorpions lead the 4-2 Wolverines, 4-2 Lynx, 4-2 Androgroup Killa Panthers, 3-3 Zulu Warriors, 3-3 Lady Sharks, 3-3 Ultra, 2-1-3 Star Athletic Club, 1-1-4 Maples Thundercats and 0-6 Lady Saints.
Only the top six male and female teams make the playoffs, which start on 31 August.
Matches continue this Saturday, 13 July, at Ed Bush. The Lady Saints face Ultra at 10am, at 1.30pm Zulu battle Androgroup while Lynx challenge Maples and at 2.30pm Lady Sharks contend with Wolverines while Star Athletic tussle with CrossFit.
For the men, Hurricanes face Dolphins at 11am, Panthers battle Saints at 12.15pm, Hellcats challenge Mustangs at 3.30pm and the Colts contend with Sharks at 4.45pm.