It was the championship weekend of the Cayman Islands Flag Football season, but only the women’s match was played at the Ed Bush stadium in West Bay.
That was won by Anytime Fitness Wolverines 7-6 against the Maples Lynx.
The men’s game did not happen because the West Bay Kensington Hellcats boycotted the match against Burger King Panthers, who were awarded the title by default.
Historically, the Hellcats are the league’s dominant team, having been champions eight times in the 15 seasons the local flag league has run. Although the Panthers had beaten the Hellcats twice in three regular season games, the Hellcats were confident of retaining their title from last season.
The reason the Hellcats boycotted the game was because they felt unjustly treated over suspensions that were handed down as a result of an incident at the end of last week’s semifinal between the Hellcats and the Island Heritage Predators.
The incident started with a Predators player, Josh Parsons, hotly disputing referee Dean Claassens’ judgment at the end of the game.
A number of players tried to pacify the situation and in addition, separate heated incidents took place on the field, in which Hellcats players Perry “Boy Wonder” Levy and Ronaldo Garcia were involved, along with Predators players.
The flag association’s committee met to discuss disciplinary action which was handed down to Garcia and Perry, as well as two Island Heritage players and a player from a women’s team.
Hellcats appealed the decision last week but it was upheld. This lead to the Hellcats deciding to pull out of the championship game.
George “Teddy” Hydes is the Hellcats head coach. He said that he felt the Hellcats players getting disciplined for what happened was unfair.
“A similar situation happened last season and we lost a player for the championship game,” Hydes said. “We were unhappy with the disciplinary outcome this time and we didn’t have the heart to go through with the game.
“We just decided enough is enough. I wasn’t going to go out there with a team that was not 100 percent committed.”
Hydes was also worried that emotions might become too strained and there may have been another flare up.
He said that they will bounce back next season but he wants to see things done “fairly.”
Panthers player-coach Brendon Malice said, “It’s actually sad. I’ve got a lot of respect for West Bay and I feel they could have played us in this game.
“Each team goes through a tough phase and although I’m not a part of the decision process, I can only speak for my team and feel we were the better team as we were the first seed. We beat them two out of three times in the regular season.
“I woke up feeling like a champ and we are the 2015 champs.” Malice added that he doesn’t feel like it’s a hollow victory.
Maggie Ebanks, president of the association said, “Personally, I am disappointed that a game wasn’t played.
“At the end of the day, the sponsors of the league are who make it possible for us to take the field. The sponsors have the right to have their company represented on that field.
“To hurt the sponsor of not only one team, but all teams in the sport is a shame. They didn’t have to put their monies towards us. They could have given it to a number of other associations.”
Ebanks said that in any other sport in Cayman, unruly behavior is not accepted and in no way was she prepared to tolerate it in this instance. She added that she wants to set a good example to the youth and does not want to set bad habits for them to follow.
At least the women’s final was entertaining. Lynx finished fourth in the regular season and the Anytime Fitness Wolverines were second. Wolverines won both matches between the teams in the regular season.
Nonetheless, Lynx felt confident in their chances having won a great game against the undefeated HSM Vipers in the semifinals, that ended up going through five overtimes.
Despite being closely covered by a Lynx defender, Benecia Thompson caught a touchdown pass thrown by Antoinette Thompson to put the Wolverines ahead.
Thompson walked off the field holding her side after hurting herself, but what mattered most was that she held on to the ball.
Agueda Blake ran the ball into the endzone for an extra point to put the Wolverines ahead 7-0.
Shinette Rhoden of the Wolverines captained her team from the safety position and did a great job in breaking up key passes.
The same could be said of a number of Lynx players, particularly Anya Edun, Christina McLean and Lilia Connolly, who all defensively made their presence felt.
Lynx fought hard to answer back and they succeeded when Kim Rivers connected with Tyanna Jan in the endzone.
A loud burst of cheering rang from the stands as everyone there wanted to see a good, close game.
However, the Lynx were unable to convert their extra point, leaving them down a point. And that was how it stayed, with the Wolverines winning 7-6.
Ebanks added, “The flag association thanks all sponsors for their generous support during the season.
“Additionally, we would like to commend the champs of each division and all the other players from other teams that fought long and hard this season.” She said that during the off-season the league plans to do a number of community service events and looks forward to its International Cup tournament in November when Bahamas will visit.