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Flag football players preparing to compete for Team USA | Sports - FlagSpin

Flag football players preparing to compete for Team USA | Sports

When Amos Augustine, Ryder Noche and Gregory Riddell began playing flag football at different points of their lives, none of them realized how far the sport could take then and the opportunities it could present.

The three junior high students embraced their time on the field, using it as a chance to improve their skills outside of the tackle football season — which they all plan to play in high school next fall. But flag football has evolved over the years.

It’s more than just a game where players run routes and pull the flags that dangle from a belt around the waist of players. It’s become physical with route concepts, specific defensive assignments and more organization than one could imagine.

With that, come opportunities. And the three boys received the ultimate opportunity in March as they were named to the Team USA U15 team.

“I was just proud of myself that I made the team,” Augustine said. “I’m just excited because, especially going into high school, it’s the national level so I can really get my name out there and get people looking at my name. Exposure.”

Both Augustine and Noche play wide receiver and defensive back in football. Riddell said he can play anything, but figures to find his spot along the edge of the defensive line in high school.

Noche, an Ahwatukee resident, and Riddell, who attends online school in the Kyrene School District and lives in Phoenix, have both already decided on attending Brophy Prep for high school to play under head coach Jason Jewell. Beyond that, they have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education, something their parents look forward to.

Augustine, meanwhile, is still deciding on which high school to attend. He currently resides in Gilbert and attends Casteel Junior High in Queen Creek. Wherever he ends up, the program will get a shifty wideout with speed and good hands. Brophy will also receive two talented players who have both played youth tackle and flag football at a high level.

All three were part of the Chandler Bears youth football team in 2019 that went on to play at nationals. Now all three are part of Elite Youth Flag Football, a team that stems from the Elite Community Foundation and Elite Athlete Management headquartered in Chandler.

Their ability to remain together and be successful doing so has been special for the three boys.

“We were the only people from the West Coast over there,” Noche said. “There’s different levels of competition over there. It’s a different type of style. Different mentalities, physicality, that’s what I saw.”

To make Team USA, the boys had to head to Charlotte for a tryout and combine of sorts. They went through various drills for each position, and did drills similar to that at the NFL combine — 40-yard dash, shuttle, etc.

Coaches for Team USA also wanted to see them live in action during a 7-on-7 period. They opened the eyes of many on east coast, including the players they attended the combine with.

“Honestly, it was a good time,” Riddell said. “Just being able to be around a whole bunch of athletic people and learning and getting better. New experiences. I had never done this before so I didn’t know what it would be like.”

The boys’ first game with the Team USA U15 Team will take place in July. Teams from Canada and as far as Japan — among others — are set to compete in the tournament.

The rules from flag football seen in Arizona and across the nation, where some contact is now welcome, are different. Contact is not allowed.

The boys believe it will take some adjusting too but they’re confident in their skill level to pick up the game quick and make a difference for Team USA.

Until then, they’ll continue practicing and gearing up for the trip this summer. Overall, it’s the perfect opportunity to play for their country and then transition into high school.

“I’m kinda nervous but not at the same time,” Riddell said. “I’m ready to go into a different part of my life.”

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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