When the inaugural season of girls flag football started in October, Calvary Day coach Chad Griffin was focused on generating interest in the sport and encouraging his girls to have fun.
The players have definitely enjoyed the ride as the last leg of their season-long journey will take them to Atlanta on Monday to play in the state title game.
Calvary punched its ticket to the Class 1A-5A finals on Wednesday as the Cavs beat Northside-Columbus 14-12 at the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Cavs improved to 6-0-2 on the year and will face Portal on Monday at noon at Center Parc Stadium.
“When we first started, I didn’t know what to expect,” Griffin said. “We just wanted to do something different and the girls really bought into it. We have coaches, like Nick Grassi, who know flag football so well. They have taught the girls the game, and now we’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
Calvary led 7-0 at intermission after Mahkayla Premo went in motion and took a direct snap, turning it into a 6-yard scoring run. Premo took a pitch and connected with Emma Crosby for the extra point.
Northside-Columbus rallied to take a 12-7 lead in the second half, but sophomore quarterback Hannah Cail helped lead a long drive that she finished off with a 6-yard scoring run to put Calvary ahead with 1:02 left. Premo hit Nevaeh Hamilton with a pass for the extra point.
“We have had so much fun this season, we’re always cracking jokes at practice, but as the season went along we got more serious about it,” Premo said. “This game was exciting and really nerve-racking at the end, but we won and now we’re headed to the championship game.”
Quarterfinal win over Harris County:Calvary Day girls flag football team embraces new sport, advances to state semifinals
Katie Ellenwood is a key player on both sides of the ball. She helps anchor the defensive secondary as a cornerback and said defense was a key to the semifinal victory.
“We were focused on watching the ball and pulling flags,” Ellenwood said. “We’ve really put our heads together and grown as a team to get this far.”
Nevaeh Hamilton, Cail and Premo are pulling double duty as the standout basketball players have become flag football stars. The trio played well in a big basketball win over Beach on Monday.
“It’s hard to compare flag football with basketball, but this game meant everything to us,” Hamilton said. “It had that atmosphere of a big game, and we had the energy and adrenaline flowing. We were chasing after that win and we got it. We have a great bond as a team, and now we want to win a championship.”
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN