There will be a second Titan football team on the field for Gadsden City High School this fall.
GCHS is adding girls’ flag football to its athletic offerings, helped by a $7,000 grant from the Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation as seed money.
Daniel Cameron and Mikey Nelson are the coaches, and more than 30 girls turned out on Tuesday for tryouts at the school’s baseball field. Spring practice begins next week.
Sport sanctioned by AHSSA
Girls’ flag football became a sanctioned sport by the Alabama High School Sports Association in 2021, in conjunction with the Falcons and NFL FLAG, the country’s largest youth flag football association.
Keith Blackwell, assistant superintendent of operations for Gadsden City Schools, said parents and students had been inquiring about the possibility of starting a team at GCHS.
Blackwell said after researching when the team would play and what equipment would be needed, and talking to students to gauge their interest and reactions, the decision was made to move forward.
Beyond ‘powder puff’ football
“We have had ‘powder puff’ football where the four classes (freshman through senior) would play during homecoming week, and things can get a little salty,” he said. “Everyone is looking forward to playing for real and having an official team.”
Although Blackwell noted from his interaction with potential players that their sights are set a little higher: “They want to win, and those who’ll be seniors want to win the state championship.”
The game is seven on seven, played on a regulation field lined off with an 80-yard field of play and 10-yard end zones. There are four 12-minute quarters.
Teams have a series of four downs to score, get a first down or punt, just like in boys’ football. Touchdowns are 6 points, but teams can score 1, 2 or 3 extra points depending on the distance they choose to try from.
Of course, no contact is allowed; defensive players must remove the flags worn by offensive players to “tackle” them.
GCHS, Albertville, Oxford have teams
Forty-four Alabama high schools had girls’ flag football teams in the inaugural season in 2021, and the number grew to 57 last year. GCHS will be the first entry from Etowah County; Albertville and Oxford in adjacent counties have teams.
Last year’s AHSAA setup divided them into 16 areas of anywhere from two to seven teams. Schools were expected to play each other at least once to determine an area champion.
The top two finishers in each area then advanced to one of eight four-team qualifying tournaments. The winners of those tournaments advanced to the season-ending championship tournament. The championship game — Auburn defeated Oxford 26-6 — was held at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium in conjunction with the boys’ Super 7 Championships.
Hewitt-Trussville defeated Smiths Station 14-13 in two overtimes at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium to win the inaugural title in 2021, also as part of the Super 7.
Both finals were televised on the NFHS Network and the winners reaped the same spoils as any other state champion —“the trophy and everything,” Blackwell said.
Atlanta Falcons, Blank Foundation help
He said the grant from the Falcons and the Blank Foundation — the school had sought $10,000 — should cover equipment and uniforms for GCHS. “This won’t be near as expensive as regular football, but it helps us start it up,” he said. “After that the team can fundraise like other sports.”
In addition to the football teams, GCHS offers baseball; boys’ and girls’ basketball; bowling; golf, indoor track and soccer; competition cheer; cross country; softball; swimming; volleyball; and wrestling,