Coach Chad Griffin revealed one of the Calvary team mottos for this flag football season — “can’t pull, can’t pitch, can’t catch, can’t win.”
Wednesday, the host Cavaliers went down their checklist and made sure the negatives didn’t surface. They pulled (flags), they pitched, they caught and they won — twice.
Calvary defeated Stockbridge 19-6 and Carver 9-0 to begin the GHSA Class A-5A flag football state tournament in the sport’s inaugural season.
The Cavs (5-0-2) advanced to the state quarterfinals against the winner of Harris County-Heritage (Conyers). Heritage is the classification’s No. 1-ranked team in the computer Maxwell Ratings.
“It’s been great to watch the girls learn the game,” Griffin said. “Throughout the games (with Stockbridge and Carver), you could see (quarterback) Hannah Cail and others reading (the defense) and reacting. I think that’s why we’re so successful. We have a bunch of competitive girls who play multiple sports.”
Griffin said seven basketball players and several softball players, volleyball players, cross country runners and cheerleaders are on the 22-person roster.
And Griffin gave coaching credit to Nick Grassi, a former Calvary football player, who has helped teach the game to the girls.
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“(Grassi) bleeds purple and gold and he’s played a lot of flag football,” Griffin said. “It’s different from regular football. I’ve had to learn that too.”
Cail and Cavs, the champs of Area 2, hardly seemed threatened Wednesday. Cail, a guard on the basketball team, distributed the football like a point guard. And the defense rarely allowed big plays.
Against Stockbridge, Mahkayla Premo scored on a short run on Calvary’s first possession, then a direct snap to Premo and a throwback to Cail on the second possession produced a 5-yard TD. A point-after pass from Cail to Neveah Hamilton made it 13-0.
Stockbridge’s Kristi Pennamon ran about 20 yards for a score to slice into Calvary’s lead midway through the second half, but a 25-yard TD run by Premo sealed the Cavs’ victory.
Game 2 started only 10 minutes later, but Calvary hardly seemed to tire. A flag football game features two 20-minute halves with a running clock until time dwindles to the final minute — the one-minute warning.
During the final minute, the clock stops like it does in football for incomplete passes and plays that go out of bounds.
Early on against Carver, Calvary’s defense registered a safety and the 2-0 lead stood up until late in the second half when Emma Crosby (the center) caught a 5-yard toss from Cail. Premo caught the point-after pass from Hamilton for the ninth point.
Now Calvary is a win away from playing the semifinals in Mercedes Benz Stadium — home of the Atlanta Falcons. The finals will be held at Georgia State University’s Center Parc Stadium.
“It’s been great, especially getting two wins and advancing to the state quarterfinals for a first-year program,” Griffin said. “I’m proud to start the program, proud of coach Grassi and proud of the girls who are buying in. The girls are fired up about it.”