Mustangs galloping for top finish

 

The Lone Star Mustangs are an old team with a new name. 

The jerseys may be fresh but the squad continues to showcase the same faces that have been consistent threats in flag football over the years. Among them is Jon Pump, a veteran receiver who has helped Lone Star sit second in the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association 2013 Digicel Summer League. 

Pump said the team has succeeded by quickly integrating new players into its system. 

“We added a fair number of new guys this year to some key positions so it could have taken a while to get everyone playing on the same page – which is why we’re pretty happy we have the record we do at this point,” Pump said. “It seems like the team has really come together and is playing better each week. We hope to continue that improvement, even into the playoffs.” 

The Mustangs head into this week 8-2, which is an identical record to the first place Burger King Panthers. While Lone Star has the edge on points differential (131-115), the Mustangs have lost to Burger King once this season and the association recently opted to use a head-to-head tiebreaker rule to seed Burger King first. 

In any case, Lone Star remain in the hunt for a second consecutive regular season title. Last year, as the Clubhouse Bulldogs, the squad earned the number one seed and advanced to the championship game, which it lost once again to the dms West Bay Hellcats. 

It should be noted that games last Saturday were cancelled due to difficulties securing a venue in the wake of the CONCACAF Under-15 Boys Championships. As a result, the league has been extended for an additional week. Two more weeks remain in the regular season with the playoffs slated to start on 7 September. Playoff seeding has added importance this season as only the top six sides make the postseason, with the top two seeds earning first round byes.  

Pump said regardless of the season extension, Lone Star remain committed to winning a title. 

“Obviously, it would be nice to have a bye during the first round of playoffs – but, either way, just making it there and ultimately winning the championship has been our focus from the beginning. 

“We’re probably the team with the largest contingent of veterans (or the oldest ones anyway) – so there may not be that many flag football seasons left to achieve that elusive championship with our core guys. It’s time to get that monkey off our backs – I’m tired of Buffalo Bills comparisons.” 

A number of teams are chasing the Mustangs in the Men’s Premier League standings. In third are Barrett Edri’s 7-1-2 Maples Dolphins and Damian Barboram’s Hellcats, the four-time reigning champions, are fourth at 6-4. Raheem Robinson’s 4-1-5 Cox Colts, Smarnell Thomas’ 3-7 Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes, Jeff Wight’s 3-7 KPMG Sharks and Avery Ebanks’ 0-10 WestStar Saints round out the rankings. 

Statistics-wise, Lone Star’s veterans have done their jobs. The Mustangs are second in scoring (registering 163 points) and first in defence (allowing only 32 points). Pump said a number of players have done well this season. 

“Our new quarterback Jamie Stephen, formerly of Durty Reid’s fame, has played a huge role in getting our offense rolling and Paul Reichard has stepped in at safety and made a big impact for us defensively. Josh Parsons continues to chip in all over the field and get better every season. 

“Of course, every team in the league lives and dies by its offensive and defensive lines and they always seem to go unheralded. We’d be nowhere without ours: Jeff Alban, Luke McInerney, Jason Moir, Koro Vaka’uta, Greg Miller, Chip Whitney and Dillon Claassens.  

“It’s been a great season all around – really nice to see both men’s and women’s leagues back at the same field promoting each other’s games and the sport in general,” said Pump. 

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Defenders like Rhys Ebanks, left, have had a hard time stopping Todd Hazlewood and Jon Pump, right.

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Dillon Claassens, top, has been exceptional on defense. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES

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