Niagara Youth Flag Football rules Markham
Niagara Youth Flag Football had an impressive showing at a Boxing Day tournament in Markham.
The organization’s three competing teams combined for an overall record of 13-3, won the Grade 7/8 and Grade 5/6 divisions and had another squad make the semifinals in the Grade 5/6 Division.
“A big thanks to all the coaches and parents who made it such a fun-filled day,” NYFF coach and founder Matt Hill said. “This certainly put Niagara Youth Flag Football on the map competing against strong teams from Toronto, GTA, Hamilton, Windsor, Chatham and other cities.”
The Grade 7/8 team, coached by Daniel Pepe and John Casasanta, went undefeated to win the oldest division in the tournament. It was led by tournament most valuable players Carson Casasanta and Liam Matthews.
“Carson, the longest-serving league member, was the best player in the whole tournament, leading the tournament with six touchdowns an interception and a bat down on defence to seal the victory in the championship game,” Hill said. “Liam, a new addition to the team, made his presence felt on defence with five interceptions and was always making big plays for the team.”
Other members of the team were: quarterbacks Richard Jaynes and Jackson Munford, who were a deadly one-two punch and took control all tournament; Owen Saunders and Ryder Hall, who were crucial parts of the team with several key receptions and flags pulled all day; deadly rusher Tegan Clarke, the only girl in the tournament, who applied constant pressure on quarterbacks all day and recorded multiple sacks; and, Jalen French, who, with only one year of flag football under his belt, showed his raw athleticism and development as he got better every down and game while recording five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Grade 5/6 champions, coached by Hill, Alexia Tam, and Alisa VanVeen, was a new and inexperienced team.
“With barely four practices together, they just kept improving every play and game,” Hill said. “Alexia and Alisa were a crucial part in coaching the boys up and getting them prepared.”
Members of the team were: Hudson Dimitroff, who was easily the best Niagara player in the tournament, leading the team in receptions while being a shutdown safety on defence; Lucas Styger, who showed off his speed and athleticism at quarterback and lead the team in rushing yards; Coen Dunkley, the other tournament MVP, came in at quarterback and sparked the passing game in the championship game; Gavin Brevit, who led the defence in flags pulled and pass breakups, was always doing his job and held the defence together; Ty Duncan Grant, who showed off his elusiveness in the red zone with big touchdowns and conversion plays where no one could cover him one on one; Bentley Mahler, who filled every position needed from receiver to corner to safety and made big plays all day; Jaxon Georgiev, new to the team, who stepped in, filled a massive role and had a huge interception; and, Nolan Gray, who was the most reliable receiver, catching every ball thrown his way and making big plays at safety.
The Grade 5/6 semifinalists, coached by Herdy Christian and Jeremy MacLeod, was a strong team. Its only loss came in the semifinals.
“This team will certainly be back and out for vengeance as they had a disappointing result after dominating wins in round-robin play,” Hill said. “This team will be back to the drawing board and certainly will be the team to beat in the next tournament.”
Members of the team were: team MVPs Ezra Clifford and Mahkyi Goguen, who were two of the best players in the whole tournament, with multiple touchdowns, interceptions and big plays all day; quarterback Kiptyn McLeod, with great throws and high quarterback IQ all day; Gabriel Murray, who was a physical specimen, running, jumping, and catching; Devantae Christian, who made plays on both sides of the ball and led the team in flags pulled; and, Gage Hall, who had several key catches and a massive game-winning touchdown catch and run.
Upcoming for Niagara Youth Flag Football are: an all-girls camp on Sunday, Jan. 16; a winter skills camp starting Saturday, Jan. 22; a high school indoor touch football league beginning Saturday, Feb. 19; and, a spring flag football season of Friday night lights starting Friday, April 22.