The FLOW 2016 Cayman Islands Flag Football Premier League ended the season on Saturday at Ed Bush playfield, with HSM Vipers taking the women’s crown and Island Heritage Predators winning the men’s league.
The first game of the day was between HSM Vipers and Maples Lynx.
Both teams prevented the other from scoring for the majority of the game; however, HSM Vipers QB Lisa Malice found Stephanie Watler and Alicia Dixon in the end zone for touchdowns and Carly Dignam kicked for an extra point conversion putting HSM in the lead. Camille Solomon of Maples Lynx received a touchdown in the final seconds of the game.
The game ended with a score of 13-8 in HSM Vipers’ favor, making them the FLOW 2016 Cayman Islands Flag Football Women’s League Champions.
HSM Vipers was formed two years ago with experienced players such as Alicia Dixon, Dionne Whittaker, Glenita Logan and Sheyla Torres, and coached by Brendon Malice. Coach Malice described the team as family, saying that the players have their differences because of personality clashes but always figure out how to work together for the betterment of the team.
Since the formation of HSM Vipers, they have become the team to beat. However, they were outwitted in the semifinals last year. Coach Malice said that last year was a tough year for the team as they went from being undefeated in regular season to being knocked out of the semifinals after five overtimes.
“It was the toughest loss I’ve faced as a woman’s coach,” he said. He described this year’s final as a “revenge game,” which the players were determined to win from the very first snap of the ball.
Lisa Malice’s great pre-snap reads allowed her to find open receivers which allowed the offense to move the ball down the field.
Brendon Malice said the team dominated the league this year again because he used his players. The team acquired Maggie Ebanks, whom the coach described as “one of the best players in the league,” whose toughness and leadership helped the team develop a more two-dimensional offense.
He also used speed players like Shenel Gall and Jen Choice and powerhouses like Schmarrah McCarthy and Jo Ziegler.
Malice said that he has had the privilege of teaching the game that he loves to many great women, who have had success both internationally and locally. He said it feels “nice to retire with an international and national league championship title.” This is his third and final women’s league championship.
Island Heritage Predators vs. Kensington Hellcats
The last game of the day was crowd favorite Island Heritage Predators versus Kensington Hellcats.
On Saturday, the Predators were determined to take the title from the very first possession of the ball. QB Jordan Stubblefield threw his signature long ball down the field to receiver Cueme Parker on the second down of the play for a touchdown and Roy Forbes kicked for an extra point.
The Predators struggled to score more points because of strong Hellcats defense from players like William Peguero, who received multiple interceptions. On offense, the Hellcats were unable to score because of the Predators’ tight defense.
The game ended with a 7-0 score in Predators’ favor, making them the FLOW 2016 Cayman Islands Flag Football Men’s League Champions.
The Island Heritage Predators, coached by Clayton Lopez, was formed three years ago with a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players. They became a crowd favorite as they showed unity on and off the field.
The Predators have a mixture of speed and strength and Lopez made sure to use his personnel every time they stepped on the field. Jordan Stubblefield said it was challenging to get everyone to buy into Coach Lopez’s system and to not only depend on a few select players.
He said the Predators made a lot of changes coming into the season this year. The team chemistry was at its best, he said, and they practiced very hard and put in a lot of time reviewing plays, watching films and teaching the younger players how to play.
He said their win was “no fluke” as Lopez is a very organized and detailed coach and expects nothing but the best from his players. Stubblefield added that the team scored 231 points in 14 games, with only 52 points scored against them.
He said the team has gelled to become as close as a family. For example, during Saturday’s final, one of the players, Josh Parsons, got injured and was taken to hospital. Instead of the team going to celebrate their first championship win, they were in the waiting area of the hospital.
Stubblefield said, “They could have just as easily been out celebrating but instead they came to check on him; that is family.” He said it feels amazing to have finally won the championship after many years.
Next up for flag football is an awards and family fun day, hosted by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association Adult and Youth Leagues at 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Field of Dreams.