They may have eight championships, but for the dms West Bay Hellcats the magic number has always been 10.
After reaching the pinnacle of local flag football this year, the Hellcats remain hungry for two more title runs. Stalwarts like dms captain Phil Brown say reaching a double-digit number of trophies would be the finishing touch for the sport’s reigning dynasty.
“It’s a great feeling and I’d just like to give a big shout out to Lone Star, they really played good,” Brown said. “It might end for me this year, I might be hanging it up, but our magic number was 10, we always talked about 10. We’ll see what happens.”
Dms has all the elements to be on top for the foreseeable future. Head coach George “Teddy” Hydes and assistant coach Jayson Gonzalez – a former player – steady a tactical and gritty coaching staff that often makes the right calls. The team philosophy, which essentially is grounding opposing attacks and pounding opposing defenders, may seem simple but has proven to be a constant success. The personnel is in place to make big plays on the field, from veterans like Nate Narcisse, Clay Coleman and Perry Levy to newcomers to the squad like Nigel Solomon, Andrew Wisdom and Andrew Graham.
For the 2014 Digicel Premier League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association, those features resulted in a dominant display. The regular season ended with a No. 1 seed thanks to a 11-1 record and a stout defense that allowed a league-low 55 points. In the playoffs, it would lead to a comprehensive 13-7 victory over the Lone Star Mustangs, the No. 3 seed at 8-4, in the championship game.
Nick Bush put West Bay ahead with a field goal in the first half. Lone Star started the second half with a long drive that culminated with a 10-yard Todd Hazlewood touchdown. Dms lineman Damian Barboram sacked Mustangs quarterback Chris Spigner in the end zone for a safety before Hellcat legend Jacob “Frecko” Ebanks made a one-yard touchdown run and threw to Levy for the two-point conversion.
Hydes saw the performance as a reward for his players.
“Our main goal at the beginning of every year is to do what we did, win a championship,” Hydes said. “But first of all, I’d like to take my hat off to Lone Star. They’ve always been there and they continue to come back every year and be in the finals. That’s our rival and much respect to them. The game was a back-and-forth game. We were moving the ball in the first half, but unfortunately we only got three points out of three red zone attempts.
“Then they came back and put us in the hole, but we fought back in Hellcat fashion to take the lead and then we just put it away after that. Defense was right there carrying us and offense stepped up in the latter minutes of the game to win the game for us.
“We’ll go back and refocus and see about the team, who’s coming back, and start from there. That’s where we start from, really early, and we finish, hopefully, late again with a championship. But our first focus is just absorbing this championship. When the season is ready to start again, we’ll be ready for it. Whoever is there, we’ll take them on. Like I’ve said, we’ll play who’s there. Lone Star has done a great job. They pushed us to the limit.”
Indeed, Lone Star were familiar foes for the Hellcats. The Mustangs suffered a season sweep at the hands of West Bay and have lost in the finals against dms two other times over the years.
For Hellcat defensive lineman Craig Frederick, last Saturday’s result at the Ed Bush field came down to defense.
“To be honest with you, we played an awesome game,” Frederick said. “Frecko came through when he had to come through but, as they say, defense wins championships. Big shout out to Beast with that awesome safety. It was just control, they had one good drive on us and that was it. This whole season has been all about defense. That’s what brought us here and that’s what is allowing us to raise that trophy right now.
“It keeps on going, we can never tire of doing that. We can never get tired. Next year, we’re going for the back-to-back. It’s all about Hellcats football, the only dynasty in Cayman Islands flag football.”
This season’s triumph is the first for dms since 2012, which was the tail-end of an epic title run that resulted in four straight trophies and seven championships in nine years. For Hellcat veterans Oliver Parker and Renford Barnes, who coached the Domino’s Lynx to victory in the women’s finale, the history books will show Hellcat dominance well into the future.
“Hellcats is dynasty, we all know that,” Parker said. “Eight championships. Any time we get to the finals, we know what the result is. We come to win the finals. That’s always our goal, No. 1 goal for Hellcats, every single year: win the championship. That’s what we did again this year.”
“Hellcats, it’s a dynasty. What can I say?” Barnes said. “This is my fifth one with them now and as you can see, we get better every year. We have our ups and downs, as every team does, we struggled a little bit on offense but our bread and butter is our defense. Once our defense is on point, we feel we’re in every game – right down to the wire. Our defense pulled it off on Saturday. Again, next year, I expect us to be there again in the finals. Look forward to us being in the finals and probably winning this three or four more times.”