Richmond Hill girls flag football coach Tony Dragon has an idea of how the Wright Brothers must have felt before their first flight.
“Right now, I’m flying by the seat of my pants,” said Dragon whose team plays its first game against Effingham County at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Henderson Park. “I don’t know what to expect.”
Flag football for girls is a new sport approved by the GHSA for this season, and it will have 91 teams statewide playing this fall. Teams are divided into two division consisting of eight areas rather than regions.
Richmond Hill is in Division 1 (classes 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A), Area 2 which includes Effingham County, Calvary Day School, Portal, Claxton and Dodge County. Division 2 is made up of 6A and 7A teams.
While the Wildcats and Effingham are both Class 6A, due to geographic location they were placed in Division 1 because no other area Class 6A schools are fielding teams.
Richmond Hill currently has 21 players on its roster and had 32 girls try out. GHSA regulations limit a team to 21 players, thus Dragon had to cut 11 players, which is something he did not want to do.
Dragon, who is also the school’s head tennis coach, has coached several sports at Richmond Hill, having served as an assistant at one time or another in football, golf, baseball and wrestling. Before coming to Richmond Hill, which is his alma mater, he was head baseball coach at Bryan County.
With that background and experience, he’s still totally in the dark about what lies ahead.
“We’re so much in a learning stage,” Dragon said. “We’re all looking forward to seeing how the first game goes.
“My personal opinion is we’re very athletic, and based on that we should be competitive, but because it’s a new sport no one knows what other teams are doing,” Dragon said. “It’s the craziest thing.
“In other sports you’ve got so much history. You have an idea of how you stack up. We don’t have that.”
For those who haven’t seen flag football, teams are made up of seven players — they must start and finish the game with at least six players — and offensively it’s fairly wide open.
“In flag football, there’s a wide variety of plays you can run,” Dragon said. “I’m really nervous about this game but we’re super excited to be one of the first teams to be playing.”
Enthusiasm for the game, Dragon said, is high among his players.
“They’re having fun and enjoying it and I enjoy coaching it,” he said.
Calvary Day and Portal played the first game among area schools and the contest ended in a 19-19 tie.
The game is played on a field 80 yards long and a minimum of 35 and maximum of 40 yards wide. The contest is 40 minutes long with a running clock which stops only in the final minute of each half or when a team calls a timeout or a stoppage by the referee. Halftime lasts five minutes.
Touchdowns count six points but extra points can be either one, two or three points. Extra points from the 3-yard line are one point, from the 10 are two, and from 15 yards they count three.