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Wood Beavers, Lincoln Lions Top Inaugural Flag Football Standings

The inaugural season of Alameda’s middle school flag football league was resolved in games on Sunday, May 19, and Wednesday, May 22. In the co-ed league, the Wood Beavers are ranked #1 and the West Alameda Hellcats are ranked #2. They will play against each other for the championship at Lincoln Middle School on Saturday, June 1, at 8:50 a.m.

Alameda Post - middle schoolers play flag football
Olivia Hart, of the Lincoln Lions, runs up the sideline as Teen Titans Isabella Farman and Jasleen Contreras close in. Referee Aaron Stoller (left), Titans coach Travis Wilson and Lions coach Stef Szczechowski (far left on sideline) look on. Photo Erin Maris.

The co-ed league has five A teams, representing Wood, Academy of Alameda, Bay Farm, and Lincoln, plus the hybrid Nea/Encinal team. Lincoln also has a B team. The girls’ league has four teams, two from Lincoln, one from Academy, and one from “East Bay” (Richmond, Oakland, Piedmont).

The girls’ league finished with the Lincoln Lions at #1 and the Lincoln Wildcats at #2. The girls’ championship game will pit them against each other at Wood Middle School, Friday, May 31, at 5 p.m.

The Beavers won every game in their conference this season, losing only in a cross-league game against the Steelers, an Oakland travel team. Most of the Beavers played together recreationally, before they formed the Wood team. Some of the Beavers players, along with a few Olympians and Steelers, previously trained with East Bay Flag Football, which ended its Alameda operations in 2023.

Alameda Post - four flag football players stand shoulder to shoulder and pose intimidatingly
Teen Titans Isabella Farman, Leiloa Lyons, Jasleen Contreras, and Elizabeth Farman after beating the Lincoln Wildcats 13-6 on May 10, despite injuries and conflicts limiting them to only four players instead of the allowed five. Photo Sofia Layzer.

The Hellcats, on the other hand, were generally new to each other this season. The team united Nea and Encinal students under Coach Daniel Hudson, since there were not enough players at either school to field a team and rounded out the team with two AoA students. They edged out the #3 Lincoln Lions by defeating the #4 Olympians, composed of AoA students, last week. The Olympians and the Lions developed a bit of a rivalry, each winning one game against the other by pulling ahead 26-20 in the last play of each game.

“These guys play together on the playground every day,” said Olympians parent Jenny Seiler. “Playing against another school heightens that camaraderie, though. Combine that with the development and growth of a league sport, and we get a more meaningful connection to the game and the kids that play it. It has more of a story arc.”

Alameda Post - a player carrying the ball charges through two others who try to grab their flag
Olympian Rajaun Lewis, of the Academy of Alameda, lunges for the first down (marked by yellow cone in background) as Greyson Glick and a fellow Lincoln Lion close in. Photo Enzo Tocchini.

Despite the impending closure of their middle school itself, Bay Farm fielded a Dolphins team this season. Most of the Dolphins play league baseball together, and understand football well, but injuries and schedule conflicts prevented the team from practicing together enough to hold their own against opponents.

The Teen Titans, consisting mostly of female AoA students, had the same problem. The league intentionally keeps its teams small, so players get good play time and can each develop their own important role on the team, said Commissioner Travis Wilson. “The league calendar jumps through a lot of hoops to accommodate the players’ busy schedule,” he said, “but you can’t schedule around injuries.”

Alameda Post - two flag football players on the same team execute a play
Olympian Kenneth Findley, of the Academy of Alameda, fakes a handoff to Killian Carlson during a game against the Bay Farm Dolphins. Photo Sofia Layzer.

In the girls’ league, rather than form an A team and a B team, Lincoln chose to enter two A teams. The Lions came together around two basketball players, one soccer player, and their friends who wanted to try the new sport. Coach Stef Szczechowski, who also runs Alameda Women’s+ Flag Football League, led the team to an undefeated season.

Most of the eighth graders on the girls’ teams plan to try out for high school flag football this fall. High school flag football is not available for boys, but some will try out for tackle football, some will return to flag football teams next spring, and some will do both. The Beavers’ Brady Olson and Olympians’ Rajaun Lewis played tackle ball in club leagues last fall, but enjoy having a flag league to keep their skills up in the spring.

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