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Both Vikings teams second at Cottonwood Flag Football Tournament

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Vallecitos Elementary School participated in the Cottonwood Flag Football Tournament which took place Thursday, Dec. 1, at Hamilton High School in Anza, and both the Vallecitos boys and the Vikings girls placed second.

“They did well,” Vallecitos coach Ray Hanbeck said.

The Cottonwood Flag Football Tournament was hosted by Cottonwood Elementary School of Aguana but played at Hamilton High School since Cottonwood doesn’t have its own field. During the games seven players for each team are on the field. Last year Vallecitos did not have enough girls for a girls team so five Vikings girls played on a co-ed team in the boys competition.

“We had both boys and girls this year,” Hanbeck said.

The flag football games had a running clock for the 20-minute contests. The field length was 40 yards, and a team could obtain a first down by gaining 20 yards on three plays. A touchdown was worth six points, and teams had the option of a one-point conversion attempt from the five-yard-line which would be passing only or a two-point attempt from the 12-yard-line which could be either a run or a pass. An interception was worth two points as well as the change of possession.

Six of the seven small K-8 elementary schools and middle schools in northern San Diego County and southern Riverside County which participate in athletic tournaments with a different school hosting a different sport each month fielded at least one team at the Cottonwood Flag Football Tournament. Borrego Springs Middle School did not make the trip to Anza. Cottonwood and Warner Middle School in Warner Springs had boys teams only.

The four girls teams played a round-robin competition. The six boys teams were divided into two pools of three teams apiece with the pool winners playing for the championship and the second-place pool teams facing each other for third place. Vallecitos was in the pool with Julian Junior High School and Pauma Elementary School while Cottonwood, Hamilton and Warner were in the other boys pool.

Hamilton won the boys championship with a win over Vallecitos in the game between first-place pool teams. The Bobcats won the girls championship with a 3-0 record in round-robin play.

“They actually had high school coaches, so they had an advantage,” Hanbeck said of the Hamilton teams.

The Hamilton girls began play with an 18-8 victory over Vallecitos. The Vallecitos touchdown was scored by Isabel Chavez.

Vallecitos then defeated Julian in a 16-0 game.

“A lot of those were on interceptions,” Hanbeck said.

The one Vallecitos touchdown against the Timberwolves was scored by Noelia Romero on a reverse from Melissa Maciel. Maciel and Romero also had one interception apiece, Chavez intercepted a pass, and Adela Alfaro and Kathy Rojas also gave the Vikings interception points.

“We were fortunate. Julian kept throwing it up in the air,” Hanbeck said. “We kept on intercepting it.”

Vallecitos concluded girls play with a 24-0 win against Pauma. Chavez, Romero and Alfaro scored the Vikings’ touchdowns.

The 2-1 record in the pool games was worth second place, which satisfied Hanbeck.

“There was only one returning girl,” he said. “The rest of the girls had never played football before. I think we did very well. A lot of them didn’t even know the rules or the positions; what they had to do. A learning experience for all of them. I’m really happy with how they did.”

Hanbeck coached both the boys and the girls during the weeks they practiced for the tournament. He oversaw the girls at the tournament itself while seventh-grade teacher Ian Liebenberg handled substitutions for the Vikings boys who called their own plays.

The first Vallecitos boys game was a 12-0 triumph over Pauma. Alonso Duran scored both touchdowns.

“I think the reverses were working really well,” Hanbeck said.

Vallecitos obtained a 20-6 win against Julian. Duran, Sylvestre Fernandez and Irvin Velazquez scored touchdowns. Gerardo Moreno intercepted a Timberwolves pass.

The championship game had a 26-2 score.

“Hamilton was just way too dominating,” Hanbeck said. “They pretty much dominated everybody.”

Fernandez had the interception in the final.

“I’m really happy with the way the boys and the girls did,” Hanbeck said.

The next tournament will be the Borrego Springs Basketball Tournament Thursday, Jan 26. Borrego Springs Middle School does not have its own gymnasium but is located next to Borrego Springs High School, so the tournament will take place in the high school gymnasium.

 

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