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OBC flag football tournament begins Monday - FlagSpin

OBC flag football tournament begins Monday

The first Orange Belt Conference team champion of the spring sports season will be soon crowned as the OBC flag football tournament will be held starting Monday.

Quarterfinal games will be played at 5 and 7 p.m. at Harmony and Osceola Monday. Teams were seeded based on last year’s final state rankings. At Harmony, Tohopekaliga will play the Longhorns in the first game, Liberty will play Celebration in the nightcap.

At Osceola, Poinciana will face the Kowboys at 5 while St. Cloud plays Gateway at. Semifinals will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the same two sites; while consolation games will be played on the home field of the highest seed. Osceola has been selected to host the third place (5 p.m.) and championship game (7 p.m.) on Friday, March 8

Regardless of seeding, Harmony, winner of the last three OBC crowns, would be considered the favorite. They have not lost to a county opponent in more than two years, a streak of 14 games.

They outscored opponents 81-6 in last year’s Orange Belt Conference. In the postseason, the Longhorns pitched three shutouts in out-scoring Lake Nona, Poinciana, and Horizon 77-0 to win the 2A, District 9 championship and finished with a 16-3 mark.

Last season, Coach Paul Strauch had six players earn Osceola News Gazette All-County honors, including quarterback and Player of the Year Martha Edwards, but others are out with injuires.

 “The loss of Ella (Husbands, defensive player of the year) is devastating, she is not only a great player but a great teammate and a great person. We’re going to miss her a lot,” Strauch said. “We hope to get Alex (Ceballos) back sometime but there is no timetable for her return.”

Still, Harmony has plenty of firepower. Edwards, a junior, took a 31-6 record into her junior year. She has accounted for 90 touchdowns in 38 career games.

“Martha is coming off two great seasons and she keeps improving,” Strauch said of his junior quarterback. “She can make all the throws and even though she has always been accurate, even that part of her game continues to improve and get better.”

Kinzie James (60 receptions, 9 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) is an explosive player and center Francheska Moreno caught 70 passes last year as a safety valve receiver. Strauch said senior Ashlyn Scarborough is taking up some of the slack left by the departure of graduated All-County performer Drea Thompson; while sophomore Jessica Olesen and freshmen Jada Bloodworth and Khloe Cook have shown tremendous promise in the pre-season and could alleviate some of the pressure caused by the loss of Husbands and the absence of Ceballos.

The only county team that stayed within three touchdowns of Harmony last year was St. Cloud (11-3 last year), who lost to the Longhorns 7-0 in the OBC tournament last year. Although head coach Shawn Beck lost all-county players Delia McDonald and Nila Frost to graduation, another all-star in junior WR/DB Priscilla Rodriguez does return.

A foursome of St. Cloud basketball players – Danigzy Mantilla, Savannah Kroener, Vanessa Vohs and Kaisley Carswell, fresh off a district hoops championship, are expected to be mainstays in the Bulldogs lineup. St. Cloud is off to a solid start with wins over Osceola and Sebring, allowing just four total points.

Ethan Fournier, the Osceola News Gazette’s Co-Coach of the Year last season at Liberty, has moved on to Celebration – where he had the Storm off to a 2-0 mark heading into this week’s schedule. Senior Leena Bolejack, who was one of the top running backs in the county last year, has taken over the quarterback role for the Storm. Through the first two games, she has accounted for seven touchdowns. Sophomores Isabella Meadows and Sofia Sherry are the top offensive threats for the Storm.

Justin Jusino has taken over at Liberty and has the Chargers off to a 38-0 win over Tohopekaliga. Sophomore Isabella Perez threw four touchdowns and she has support at both wide receiver in senior Monica Montes (3 touchdowns) and running back Amelia Medina (47 rushing yards). 

Under second-year head coach Samantha Lynch, Osceola (1-1 start) is another team that will have to be reckoned with in 2024. After 2022 when the Kowboys won just one game, Lynch turned Osceola’s program around in one season, going 7-9. Her top returning player for this year is WR/LB Alex Melendez but Lynch also expects freshman QB Patricia Rodriguez, junior WR Sofia Antwi Silva and sophomore RB/L Marissa Coats to be valuable contributors this year.

After leading Poinciana to a solid 8-3 mark last year, coach Johnny Perez said goodbye to several key components of a senior-laden team. With just six returning letter winners, Perez will rely on WR/LB Janessa Cloud to provide senior leadership to his young team.

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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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