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Flag football team wins Patriots’ first title

Perfect — that’s the best word to describe the season for the Charlotte County (CC) Patriots Youth Flag Football team.

The squad, consisting of 27 boys ages 5-7, brought home the Patriots organization’s first championship Saturday when it defeated Emporia 20-7 in the Super Bowl at Prince Edward County High School.

The Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl after defeating Prince Edward 12-6 in an Oct. 28 playoff game.

After finishing the regular season 10-0, the Patriots were the regular season district champions and the Sportsmanship Award winner.

“This combination is especially impressive because it teaches the children that they can play hard and win while following the rules and having manners,” said Patriots Flag Football team Head Coach and Patriots Football Director Leslie Poling. “This is what we want to instill in all of our children.”

In the Oct. 28 playoff game, Charlotte County faced off against the Prince Edward Eagles at their home field. The Eagles were the Patriots’ fiercest competition during the regular season, and the playoff game was no different.

Prince Edward scored first and kicked for two extra points. The Patriots scored a touchdown in the second quarter but failed to complete the extra point and went to halftime down 8-6.

They were not showing their best blocking during this game but managed to score another touchdown in the second half while a strong defense prevented the Eagles from scoring.

The Super Bowl matched up the undefeated CC Patriots from the James River District and the undefeated Emporia Renegades from the Southside District.

The strong defense that CC has been known for all season kept Emporia from scoring even though the Renegades had the ball during the entire first quarter.

The Patriots’ defense is not only strong but deep. During this game, at least 10 different Patriot players pulled flags — the flag football equivalent of tackling.

The Patriots’ offense got the ball in the second quarter and went four and out. The Renegades had a long offensive drive in the second quarter and finally scored a touchdown with one minute, 27 seconds remaining.

This lit a fire under the Patriots who blocked hard and gave their runner a path to score a touchdown from the line of scrimmage with 1:01 remaining in the half. Emporia was able to make its extra point, and Charlotte wasn’t, making the halftime score 7-6 with the Renegades in the lead.

The second half was all Charlotte County. The Patriots scored on their first drive and kicked for two extra points. Their defense stayed strong and prevented the Renegades from scoring. The Patriots scored a third touchdown in the fourth quarter with another huge run.

“The children and coaches worked hard all season,” Poling said. “Our conditioning — we do a lot of running — made the difference in several games, including the Super Bowl. We were fast and had more endurance. We had a large team and were able to develop kids into offensive or defensive specialists, even though several were very versatile and did play both at times. The players all came with their own talents, and we were able to help them use and improve them.”

The team consisted of quarterback/running backs Alex Gee and Cole Toombs, kicker Cameron Clark, offensive specialists Sawyer Rowley-Clark, Nathan Smith, Jamarius Gray, Emmitt Rowley-Clark, Mikhail Fuller, Brayson Duncan, Brody Jones, Carter Beard, Carter Clowdis, Gavin Hammonds, Aiden Friend, Zion Thomas and Caleb Eason, defensive specialists Carper McCarty, Chris Rowan, Damari Ridley, Neymyah Hill, Will Rundstrom, Rashard Elam, Cale Schrekengost, Isaiah Smith, Hyde Hamlett, Lincoln Rowley-Clark and Jackson Matthews.  The team is coached by Poling, Ben Rowley and Phillip Watts with assistance from Morgan Dickerson and Nora Poling.

Poling thanked the cheerleaders and the players’ families for all of their support throughout the season. The flag cheerleaders included Leighton Adams, Peyton Bailey, Mackenzie Barton, Chesney Brown, Leah Cowart, Nicole Duffer, Emma Hudson, Avarie Lipscomb, Sophie Lyle, Adilyn Mason, Syler Rowley-Clark, Sydney Scruggs, Piper Toombs, Kinsley Waddell and Bailey Walker.  They are coached by Kristin Barton and Lisa Walker.