Even while missing a teammate, the Raiders rallied for a 44-30 win over the Seahawks in the championship game of Destin’s Youth Flag Football League for ages 11-13 at Dalton Threadgill Park on Thursday night.
The missing player was 11-year-old Kohltan Ward. Ward was struck by a vehicle in mid-October while riding a bicycle at the corner of Main Street and Kelly Street and died five days later. Kohltan died the weekend before his first game.
“This season was so much more than flag football for our team,” Raider Coach Chad Wandrick said.
“We prayed, shed tears, practiced and played with heavy hearts due to the loss of our teammate and friend Kohltan Ward. I’m so proud our boys stuck together to win the championship, Kohltan Strong,” Wandrick said.
More:Destin community gathers for prayer vigil for 11-year-old injured in bicycle, vehicle accident
On Thursday night, each player on the Raiders had black tape under his eyes that read “Kohltan Strong,” in remembrance of their friend. Their jerseys also had the name Kohltan on the back.
Each player was awarded a trophy after the game. But they quickly turned them back in to have them engraved in remembrance of Kohltan.
More:Celebration of life service set Sunday for Kohltan Ward at Dalton Threadgill Little League Park
More:Community turns out for Krushin for Kohltan Cabbage Ball Tournament fundraiser
As for the game, the Raiders took charge early by scoring two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes. Pierre Laudumiey connected with Chase Wandrick for the first strike, then quarterback Baker Giles connected with Laudumiey for the second TD.
The third Raider score was about a 60-yard scamper down the left side to the end zone by Laudumiey. The point-after attempt was good and the Raiders led 19-0.
Right before the half, the Seahawks got on the board with quarterback Brody Ray connecting with Brooksie Chouinard for a TD. Charlie Frankfurt scored the extra point.
The Raiders led 19-7 at the half.
The Seahawks struck first in the second half with Charlie Frankfurt zigzagging his way down the right side for about a 60-yard score. Ray connected with Chouinard on the extra point play to pull to 19-14.
Just minutes later, the Raiders’ Giles threw about a 45-yard bomb to Laudumiey who took it into the end zone for the score. The point after attempt failed.
The Seahawks failed to capitalize on their next possession and turned the ball back to the Raiders.
Jackson Black ran down the right side for about a 50-yard score for the Raiders and a 31-14 lead.
The Seahawks, not done yet, scored again on a 30-yard run by Frankfurt. Frankfurt then passed to Caleb Wright for the extra-point play and a 31-22 game.
The Raiders came right back with Giles finding Deacon Martin in the end zone on a 15-yard pass play.
The Raiders scored once more with Laudumiey making a toss to Giles, who was on his knees in the end zone, for the TD. They then swapped and Giles hit Laudumiey in the left corner of the end zone for the conversion and a 44-22 advantage.
The Seahawks scored one last time. Frankfurt scored on a 15-yard run and then Wright scored on the conversion for a 44-20 finish.
The Raiders finished 6-1 after losing their first game of the season.