After a less than convincing start to their title defense, the Androgroup Killa-Panthers are hungry to make amends.
The 2013 national women’s flag football champions had a 0-0 draw in their opener against the Dominos Lynx for the Digicel 2014 Summer Premier League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association. Week two of the season is on June 28, with Androgroup facing CrossFit 7-Mile Scorpions from 2:30 p.m. at Ed Bush field in West Bay.
The defensive struggle featured six sacks from Danielle Connolly of the Lynx and nine tackles from Alicia Dixon of the Killa-Panthers. Dixon says the champs will heighten their intensity.
“It was a tough game as both teams came out to win and left it all on the field,” Dixon said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the win, but we will continue to keep working and fighting like each game is our last.”
CrossFit is coming off a 20-0 defeat at the hands of the Lady Sharks. Quarterback Scimone Campbell led the winners with touchdown passes to Krishan Welcome and Ivanna Powery. The Scorpions had numerous players missing, with 2013 Defensive Most Valuable Player Cassandra Bodden leaving the game early with a hand injury. Bodden says there is room to improve.
“It was unfortunate in how the game went and we definitely didn’t play to our potential,” Bodden said. “However, it is the first week of the season and we know what we need to work on.”
While the champs look to live up to past exploits, other teams are hoping to gain momentum. The Burger King Wolverines and the Caledonian Killa B’zzz are coming off a 0-0 draw with Nikki Ebanks of the B’zzz sporting two interceptions and the Wolverines leaned on Alexandria Saintvil and Amber Watson. Star Athletic Club are a budding outfit that suffered a 19-0 loss to Zulu Warriors and head coach Lawrence Nelson expects his girls to produce some success.
“We aren’t a team of superstars, but we work hard,” Nelson said. “I see the growth in these girls and I know that we will get some W’s under our belt as the season goes on.”
Going forward, Nelson will look for more brillance from daughter Amanda Nelson – the team’s top tackler who recorded two sacks in the opener. Zulu figure to lean on the usual suspects as QB Dionne Whittaker completed six of 12 passes and three TD passes to Sheyla Torres, Jessica Ebanks and Shenel Gall.
On the men’s side, local dynasty dms West Bay Hellcats hope to rely on their old veterans for success this year. In their opening 13-6 win over the Maples Dolphins, QB Jacob “Frecko” Ebanks threw 18 completions and a TD pass to Perry Levy while Phil Brown had a rushing TD. Maples, a young and rebuilt side, featured eight tackles from Ceylron Powell and an interception returned for a score by Kwei General. Levy says discipline and experience will be key going forward.
“The aggressive approach of our offense was encouraging, but the execution was poor as a number of drives stalled because of dropped balls,” Levy said. “We know that a better showing is required this weekend with perennial heavyweight Lone Star next on the schedule.”
The Hellcats face Lone Star at noon on Saturday, with the Mustangs coming off a 19-12 loss to the Island Heritage Predators. Veteran Kevin Zimmer had a sack while Tyler Lee and Josh Parsons had touchdown catches. Rookie club Predators saw QB Jordan Stubblefield go 6-for-11 with touchdowns to Chris Bennett, Will Peguero and Baron Solomon.
Last year’s winners, the Burger King Panthers, look on track for another championship after a 19-0 win over the KPMG Sharks. QB Chris Lucas looked sharp as usual and the defense remains stout as Andre Morgan, Brendon Malice, Jamal Dell and Anthony Chin all had sacks. KPMG – which had four catches from Brad Conolly – have some fresh buzz with Luigi Moxam under center.
League president Maggie Ebanks says Moxam is a welcome sight for the competition.
“It’s great to see players coming back to the league such as Luigi and playing amongst the younger players,” Ebanks said.
In total, there are 15 squads competing across the men’s and women’s divisions. Matches will take place every Saturday in West Bay from 11 a.m. until roughly 5 p.m. Ebanks says the opening fixtures pave the way for more drama.
“It was great to see teams on the field again, being competitive and having fun,” Ebanks said. “There are a number of new faces on various teams and that’s something we always look for. I love the sponsor presence and it’s great for the players and fans to be able to come out and see that.
“This is the third year that we are fortunate to have them on board with us. We are extremely grateful and thankful for their continued contribution and we are continuously working with them on ways to grow our relationship.”
Digicel CEO Chris Hayman says the company is motivated to see the sport grow in Cayman.
“We are delighted to be the title sponsor of the league for yet another year. Over the past two years, we have watched the sport grow in popularity as more and more participants get involved each year. Sport in Cayman plays a strong role in building community spirit and in the development of local talent and Digicel are committed to supporting local initiatives like this that foster such causes. We look forward to another successful year of the league and wish all the teams involved every success.”