To say Richmond Hill’s girls flag football team’s debut was successful might be a bit of an understatement.
Nervous energy abounded on the Wildcats sidelines they awaited the start of their game with Effingham County on Nov. 5 at Henderson Park.
It didn’t take long for the nervousness to vanish, and once it did, it was all Richmond Hill as the Wildcats used the play of quarterback Lucy Tuttle and running back Kayla Jackson to beat the Rebels 26-6 before the nearly packed stands.
Tuttle, a starting outfielder on the softball team where she’s known for having a strong, accurate arm, put it on display as she completed 8 of 17 passes for 76 yards, which opened up the running game.
Jackson, who also plays soccer, ran for 105 yards including touchdown runs of 30 and 68 yards. Alena Masis scored the first touchdown of the game when she went 47 yards on a trick play head coach Tony Dragon dusted off from his days as an assistant coach at Benedictine.
“The quarterback sticks the ball back through her legs to the running back and then rolls right,” Dragon said. “The running back goes left and they don’t know where the ball is. I learned that when I was on coach (Tommy) Brackett’s staff. Coach (Donald) Chumley was on that staff, too, and he ran it successfully a lot at Savannah Christian.
“The girls were skeptical. They didn’t think it would work.”
It worked, as did about everything else the Wildcats tried.
“We’ve got some kids who are athletic and play other sports,” Dragon said. “They were all super nervous at the beginning and then settled down. I thought they played really well.”
Jackson’s scoring runs came where she started on a sweep around left end, cut back toward the middle of the field and then raced up the right side to score untouched.
“It’s kind of similar to soccer,” Jackson said. “It’s about knowing your spacing and reading where everyone is.”
Tuttle also had a 5-yard scoring pass to Allie Washington. Defensively, speed rusher Kinsey Morales got the Rebels quarterback behind the line four times. Avery Fisher had an interception and caught a pair of passes, and Washington had four catches.
Extra points were scored by Keira Jones and Karli Eubanks on passes from Tuttle.
Tuttle and Jackson both said having the opportunity to play flag football was one they relished. This is the first year for flag football as a high school varsity sport in Georgia, and GHSA has slated state championship games Dec. 28 at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
“This is fun,” Tuttle said. “The first couple of plays I was nervous but then I was OK.
“As the quarterback, you have to stay calm and communicate. This is a new sport and we haven’t been practicing that long, but I thought we played well. I think a big key for us is we have strong team bonding.”
Jackson said the moment she heard the school was going to have a flag football team she knew she wanted to play.
“I thought it sounded like fun and it is,” Jackson said. “I want to be active and this is a good activity. I was nervous and uneasy but soon got over it.”
The Wildcats roster with number in parentheses: (1) Ella Murphy, (2) Rachel Rey, (3) Shannon Lacy, (4) Kinsey Morales, (5) Kayla Jackson, (6) Alena Masis, (7) Maddie Ward, (8) Gabby Lawson, (9) Karli Eubanks, (11) Lexie Merry, (12) Keira Jones, (13) Kayla Ragins, (14) Allie Washington, (15) Lucy Tuttle, (16) Grech Burgos-Cotto, (19) Mary Peregrina, (21) Jill Bliss, (23) Toccara Edmonds, (24) Miranda Dobbins, (30) Avery Fisher.
Nov. 5: RHHS def. Effingham County 26-6; 10: Calvary Day School (2), 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m.; 12: at Effingham County, 4:15 p.m.; 17: Portal , 6 p.m.; 19: at Dodge County, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 1: at Portal, 4:30 p.m.; 9: First round GHSA state playoffs.
Note: Home games are played at Henderson Park.