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Kevin and Rhys flag their legacy.
Oct 18, 2012, 11:12 am

As flag football winds down for 2012, Kevin Solomon and Rhys Ebanks are contemplating their future.

Stalwarts of the sport for about a decade, both were rumoured to be retiring after a lackluster season with the Cox Colts in the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association.

Ebanks, 32, states he is in fact ready to hang up his cleats.

“Well I started flag in 2003 and have enjoyed playing the game and the rivalries that go on within the sport,” Ebanks said. “That being said, I believe this indeed is my last year of playing flag football. It’s come to a point now where I don’t find the game fun. I’m not sure how much this season played a role in my decision but it surely didn’t tip the scale to return next year. I don’t feel like jumping on a powerhouse team just to win.

“I’ve won two championships so I don’t have the “need” to win and I don’t want to go on a new or rebuilding team. A few of us have toyed with the idea of creating a team but that, honestly, is too stressful to take on. So I think it’s time that I say goodbye. Ideally, I would’ve loved to go out a champion or at least leave with a better season than this but in a way I think it makes it easier.”

The tight-end/linebacker, who lives in Savannah and is originally from West Bay, would see his Colts finish with an abysmal 4-8 record this year. Cox would miss the playoffs and end up sixth out of seven teams.

That form, at the Ed Bush field in West Bay, represented a drastic departure from their performance in 2011. The Colts, in their inaugural season, would advance to the finals, where they lost to Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks and dms West Bay Hellcats. Interestingly, Rhys Ebanks had a phenomenal campaign with a team-high 10 receiving touchdowns.

Solomon, the first-string quarterback, was also disheartened by Cox’s form but intends to remain a Colt.

“I’ve played a lot of flag football in these islands,” Solomon said. “As a competitor, I always want to win but I’ve already won two championships so it’s not solely about winning for me. I’m getting married in a couple of months, so my focus is a little different at this stage.

“I will take a look and reassess things but that doesn’t mean I will be walking away from a sport that I love and enjoy playing. I don’t plan on retiring and I’m not planning on stepping aside. Whether I play quarterback or another position, or consider coaching, we’ll see.

“What I do know is there’s a lot of pressure on you as the quarterback and I wouldn’t mind handing off the reigns to a guy like Stiffler, Richard Campbell, and showing him the ropes. I enjoy the sport and will do it as long as I can. Besides Uncle Dave, David Nielsen, still has some years on me and continues to be an inspiration.”

Both Ebanks and Solomon were left off the national team that competed in Nassau, Bahamas last weekend at the annual invitational tournament staged by the Bahamas Flag Football League. The roster was dominated by dms players, with eight Hellcats making up the 20-man roster, after West Bay won their fourth straight championship this season, their seventh title in nine years.

Interestingly, Cox were represented by Andrew Frederick and Chester Hurlston. Solomon’s omission is somewhat surprising as he guided the national team to the finals last year, alongside Frederick.

With a beach tournament and a knock-out competition on the horizon, flag football has a number of events planned before the calendar year ends. It seems unlikely that either Ebanks or Solomon will participate. Instead, both men want to see their Colts rebound in 2013.

“The Cox Colts’ future completely depends on the core group that is left,” Ebanks said. “I think there is a general feeling regarding the team that they will somehow need to erase to ensure they recruit the right pieces. I was told on numerous occasions by players that they would’ve loved to join our team but didn’t for a particular reason.

“But I do hope they do well as the league needs to have more competitive teams. As it stands now, I think the only two teams that can truly say they will contend are the Club House Bulldogs and West Bay.”

“Everyone wants to win but there can only be one championship winner,” Solomon said. “The focus needs to be on encouraging and developing players and having fun, that way we all win.

“There are some changes in the Colts I’m expecting to see. I hope we will revisit the reason we started the team: to encourage young guys to get out and enjoy the sport. We lost focus of that last year, given the addition of some veteran players. As we try to rebuild, that’s something we need to revisit.

“At this point, I’d also like to say thank you to the sponsor, Cox Lumber Ltd. We have received great support from them and the team should be in a position to build and go back to the core goal because of them.”


Hellcats make it four straight
Oct 5, 2012, 4:00 pm

Renford ‘X-Factor’ Barnes has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Barnes sealed a fourth straight national flag football championship for the dms West Bay Hellcats. He had the match’s first touchdown and the game-winning interception in overtime against the Club House Bulldogs at the Ed Bush field over the weekend.

Barnes, who had a championship-clinching pick against the Cox Colts last year, states it cements his legacy.

“We’ve had two titles with me intercepting the ball in the end-zone,” Barnes said. “They were the exact same plays. I wouldn’t say that makes me the best defensive back ever but I’m definitely in the top three.

“Hats off to the front three, Al ‘Big Al’ Nixon, Jeremy ‘Buff’ Miller and Damian ‘Beast’ Barboram, who played great. They made me look good in the end. They all put pressure on the quarterback and helped me out. With that pressure, they couldn’t stop us so I can’t take all the credit.”

The Hellcats-Bulldogs final was a defensive struggle throughout. Both teams, who went into the match’s final minute level at 0-0, had slim chances to score in regulation. Club House tried a 30-yard field goal with 26 seconds left but quarterback Luigi Moxam’s attempt would fall short.

Armed with a controversial pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs’ Zak Kepner, West Bay would get their shot with 1.7s left. Nicholas ‘Assassin’ Bush would attempt a 40-yard field goal but it missed wide right.

West Bay won the overtime toss and had possession first. On their first play, Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks would find Barnes in the end-zone to put the Hellcats up 6-0. Bush would miss the extra-point attempt.

Club House then got the ball with Chris Spigner running the ball on first down. Spigner would throw a pass down the middle on second down but it would be tipped by Jeremy Miller and end up in Barnes’ hands to seal the outcome.

Hellcats head coach Jayson ‘Papi-Rican’ Gonzalez states the end result was never in doubt.

“It was a very exciting game, I never doubted our guys,” Gonzalez said. “I knew our defence would come through. All we needed was one play to score and win the game.

“Club House are a great team. They worked hard and they were our best competition in the league. We’ve battled for years and unfortunately, the ball always bounces our way. At the end of the day, they can’t find a way to beat us.”

Thanks to Barnes’ heroics, the Hellcats now have seven titles in nine seasons and continued bragging rights as local flag football’s reigning dynasty. They overcame an 8-4 record, including a three-game losing streak to end the regular season, to win the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association. The second-ranked Hellcats beat the 8-4 Burger King Panthers in the first round of the postseason.

Club House meanwhile were 9-3 and went into the playoffs as the number one seed after winning six straight regular season games. They would take down the 7-5 Maples Packers in the first round.

For Bulldogs running back Chris ‘Smitty’ Smith, the way the final ended was excruciating.

“It was a good final that could have went either way,” Smith said. “A couple bad calls threw us off. The pass interference killed us. On the last play, we should have just run it in. We put in a cold quarterback in Spigner and he or I could have run it in.

“But it was a great game on both sides that either team deserved to win. There it was for us on a tipped ball but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We all played our hearts out.”

The loss is the latest chapter for a Bulldogs team that has historically fallen short in the clutch. The side made it to the league finals in 2008 and 2009, losing to the Calabash Farm Soldiers and later the Hellcats.

For Club House star Dave Velez, that history adds insult to the injury from the game’s final play.

“The best teams play really close,” Velez said. “Unfortunately, this came down to which side came up with a tipped ball. All I can say is our guys played great in the second half.”

Last Saturday’s final saw a decent gathering that included national volleyball star Cristin Alexander. Among the spectators was West Bayer Neville Narcisse, the father of Hellcats cornerback Nathan Narcisse, who stated he inspired dms to victory.

“If I didn’t show up, there would be no inspiration to win,” Narcisse said. “Clay Coleman is my first cousin and I told him I wanted a championship. I was vex after reading in the newspaper that they were losing a couple of games.

“They had to straighten up. I wanted nothing other than a win. I went fishing for barracudas all day but I couldn’t miss that. I’m so glad, so proud of Nathan and the whole team.”


Bahamians flag Cayman talent
Oct 5, 2012, 4:00 pm

The Bahamas will once again host some of Cayman’s best gridiron players.

The Bahamas Flag Football League is set to stage its annual invitational tournament on 14-16 October at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex in Nassau.

League director Jayson Clarke states the Bahamians are eager to play Cayman.

“We’re expecting a really good display of competition while building stronger ties and relationships,” Clarke said. “We are proud to announce that teams representing both Cayman leagues are coming all the way to Nassau to participate.

“Since our inaugural season in 2009, the league and the sport itself have grown significantly. We’ve had three intense local seasons as well as teams travelling to the Cayman Islands to compete in their regional tourney.”

Often referred to as the Caribbean Regional Cup, the event has taken place since the Bahamian league formed in 2009. Cayman is slated to be represented by male and female squads from the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association and the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association.

A total of 13 teams are taking part with eight men’s sides and five women’s squads from Cayman, New Providence and Freeport.

Cayman will look to replicate last year’s form. Both female teams made the finals (the Grand Cayman association won) while the men’s side lost in the finals. The ladies featured star talents Bobeth O’Garro, Scimone Campbell and Sophia Dilbert while Perry Levy, Leslie Harvey and Kevin Solomon were the male stars.

News of the Bahamas trip comes as both local groups wrap up their respective competitions. The Cayman association’s Digicel Summer League held its finale last Saturday between Luigi Moxam’s Club House Bulldogs and Kevin Maxwell’s dms West Bay Hellcats.


West Bay dynasty sees no end
Oct 5, 2012, 3:56 pm

The sun will not set on Cayman’s reigning flag football dynasty any time soon.

After collecting a fourth straight national championship this month, the seventh triumph in nine years, the dms West Bay Hellcats are gearing up to boast 10 titles by 2016.

Hellcats head coach Jayson ‘Papi-Rican’ Gonzalez states his troops have many championship runs left.

“I don’t want to sound like LeBron James but I’d definitely say we got three or four more in us,” Gonzalez said. “We know the teams are getting harder and the league is getting harder in terms of teams. Every team has good players. But, we’re still the best team for the next three to four years.

“We’re here for a long time. Every year, the team gets older but we have a lot of heart. There are teams that are more talented but at the end of the day, it’s about who wants it more.”

The Hellcats claimed the crown for the 2012 Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association, in dramatic fashion. Dms beat the Club House Bulldogs 6-0 in overtime at the Ed Bush field in West Bay. A defensive struggle throughout, both teams missed field goals in the waning moments of regulation.

Renford ‘X-Factor’ Barnes was the hero, getting the match’s first touchdown and the game-winning interception in extra time. Barnes states winning never gets old.

“It feels good to win again,” Barnes said. “We had to go back to the top. Club House goes hard to beat you but we stuck together and pulled it through. We didn’t fall apart.

“Club House brings it every game. They play us tough and bring the best out of us. With them, it all comes down to execution and heart. It’s amazing.

“This is my third straight with West Bay and I had one championship with the Calabash Farm Soldiers. It’s been four straight for the Hellcats yet everyone is special. To do the double and then the triple was special. But coming out on top was still our number one concern.”

The victory allowed the Hellcats, who had unsung talents like Nicholas ‘Assassin’ Bush and Jeremy ‘Buff’ Miller, to overcome a surprising regular season campaign that saw the champs finish second at 8-4. Club House, behind Luigi Moxam and Chris Spigner, were 9-3 and went into the playoffs as the number one seed after winning six straight regular season games.

Going forward, the Hellcats have the pieces for more glory. Their veteran cast, including quarterback Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks, Damian ‘Beast’ Barboram and Perry ‘BoyWonder’ Levy, shows little signs of slowing down.

While the long-term health of offensive lineman Barry ‘Jus B’ Bush and running back Oliver ‘Dark Star’ Parker is a question mark, the Hellcats have proven resourceful in adding talents like Tito ‘Show Stopper’ Solomon and Jamaal ‘Local Beef’ Anderson.

Nikolai ‘Nino’ Hill has been part of five titles with the Hellcats and states the future looks bright for the champs.

“When it comes down to it, we play Hellcat football,” Hill said. “The record speaks for itself. We’ll continue to play Hellcat football next year, the year after and years down the road.”

By: Matthew Yates | matthew@cfp.ky
05 October, 2012


2012 CIFFA Men's League Champions
Oct 2, 2012, 2:32 pm

Congrats to the DMS Hellcats who cemented their position as the undisputed champions of Cayman Flag Football by notching their 4th consecutive gold cup. With seven titles in nine seasons, the squad became the first sporting club in Cayman history to win four consecutive championships in a premier league. The Hellcats earned thedistinction over the weekend with a hard fought overtime victory over top seed Club House Bulldogs.  A defensive game throughout, both squads were unable to score during regulation. In overtime, Jacob "Frecko" Ebanks connected with Renford Barnes for a TD on a fade pattern bringing Hellcats supporters to their feet. On the Bulldogs possession, Hellcats defensive lineman Jeremy Miller deflected a potential TD pass by Chris Spigner up in the air which Barnes intercepted ceiling the outcome.


Elements - End of Year Party
Sep 27, 2012, 3:53 pm

 


Maples pack it up
Sep 27, 2012, 10:25 am

The Maples Packers have many positives to build on this offseason.

After a two-win campaign last year, Maples would fall four points short of advancing to the finals of the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association.

Packers head coach/lineman Shawn Pitterson states he is proud of his squad.

“I was very confident in my team-mates,” Pitterson said. “I enjoyed the season. We were a team that went from a few wins last season to the playoffs.”

The Packers would lose their postseason contest against the Club House Bulldogs 9-6 last Saturday at Ed Bush Field in West Bay. Club House now challenge reigning six-time champions the dms West Bay Hellcats, who took down the Burger King Panthers 7-6. The finals are set for this Saturday, 29 September, at Ed Bush at 4pm.

Maples ended their regular season campaign in fourth place at 7-5. The 2012 season would prove intriguing as the Packers enjoyed a five-game winning streak, beating every team except Perry Levy’s Hellcats.

The final statistics showed Maples had no trouble getting on the scoreboard, ranking fourth in offence with 186 points scored. On the other hand, they had the third-worst defence, allowing 139 points.

The team thrived on a mix of veteran players and newcomers. Rookie of the Year candidate Barrett Edri guided the side at quarterback, with 15 passing and a league-best seven rushing touchdowns. Edri connected often with targets like Leslie Harvey (who had a team-high 19 receptions), Will Peguero Jr and Christopher Bennett (both had the most touchdowns with four apiece).

On defence, Harvey had a team-high three interceptions. Davanni James had a team-best three sacks with Edison Jackson being the leading tackler with 36 tackles.

Pitterson states, regardless of the stats, he was pleased with the effort on both sides of the ball.

“I really did appreciate all of the hard work and dedication from our players during practice and games. We have improved with experienced players like Leslie, Will, Edison, centre Andrew Graham and lineman George Bustillo.

“Then we also had our talented young players like Rupert Whittaker, Chris, Deandre Simpson, Barrett, Jordan Cacho, Davanni, Jeffrey Robinson and Mike Fischetti.

“Our defensive line was very quick and aggressive and we had a good offensive line.”


Colts fall short of expectations.
Sep 20, 2012, 9:13 am

The Cox Colts mistakenly thought they were Cayman’s second-best flag football team.

Instead of a repeat run to the finals, Cox would end up out of the playoffs in the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association.

Colts quarterback Kevin Solomon states the side was hampered by a number of problems.

“From my point of view, it was a bit of a disappointment,” Solomon said. “There were a few ups and downs this season. But, on a whole, it was disappointing.

“For one, I think we started out with a different outlook and came in with the feeling that because we went to the finals last year that we would make it back to the finals and win it all with some minor changes. I think we got way ahead of ourselves and lacked the focus for the season, that was evident in the lack of intensity at practices.

“There was also a change in the team dynamics as we brought on board an offensive coordinator, Mike Bird, who was on the offensive line last year. He had some good ideas but they were difficult to implement due to poor practice and game turnout.

“I also prefer making calls in the game and calling my own plays, but we attempted to have him calling plays from the sideline. That move added some frustration for us both as we were rarely on the same page.

“As a team we also didn’t do a good enough job of recruiting. Traditionally, we’re a team of young professionals and for weeks, we had 12/13 guys each game due to people taking vacation during the summer months. Our team really lacked depth at many positions, most noticeably at wide receiver and it became more difficult each week with guys playing on both sides of the ball on offence and defence.

“It is very difficult to give 100 per cent playing both sides of the ball when there are few substitutes. The end result was we went from a team that played very smooth and efficiently to a team that struggled. It was a total shift from last year.”

The Colts lost their regular season finale to the Burger King Panthers last Saturday at the Ed Bush Field in West Bay. Cox head into the offseason with a 4-8 record, which landed them sixth out of seven teams. The stats show the squad struggled on both sides of the ball, scoring 126 points (third-worst in the league) and allowing 134 points (second-worst in the competition).

For Cox, that form represented a drastic departure from their performance in 2011. The Colts would finish second in their division in their inaugural season and go on to beat the Panthers and the Bulldogs, formerly sponsored by Doghouse and currently backed by Club House, before losing to the dms West Bay Hellcats in the finals.

Colts tight-end/linebacker Rhys Ebanks broke down how Cox progressed from that point to where they are now.

“The 2012 season for the Colts was filled with some ups and downs until about Week 10 when reality set in that our playoff hopes were over,” Ebanks said. “I personally feel the season started off well, seeing as how we were coming from the finals the year before and came so close to dethroning the reigning five-time champs.

“We tried to iron out some of the kinks that we felt hindered us from reaching our full potential. We didn’t do any real heavy recruiting because we still had the core guys and felt that we could overcome our ‘issues.’ After about week four/five, it was clearly evident that we were not the same team as last year but we felt that we still had enough room/time to get things right.

“Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and we’re left with a 4-7 record heading into the final week of games. For me personally, I’m very disappointed in the season as I went from becoming very involved in the offence last year, leading the team with 10 touchdowns, to tallying a total of zero this year.

“While I don’t think that I single-handedly would’ve made the difference in our season I was responsible for over 40 per cent of our points last year. So, as well as the team not performing, I’m also a bit bummed to have the season that I had.”

A change in personnel might have played a role in this year’s showing. Taj Haye and David Taylor left the Colts to join the Panthers and Cox employees Dale Stoudt and defensive coach Darell Johnson did not return to the team. Keeping the side together were head coach Rick Hurtt and lineman Dave Nielsen.

Stats-wise, the returning cast of veterans steadied the club. Solomon was the top hurler with 11 touchdowns and two rushing scores. Brad Conolly had a team-high 37 receptions and Chester Hurlston tied newcomer Richard Campbell for the most receiving touchdowns with three. Jonny McLaughlin had the most sacks with six while Conolly had a team-best 28 tackles.

Ebanks states those efforts did little to counteract the team’s problems.

“We didn’t have a real common direction or one common voice to follow. I think, from a vocal standpoint, we have about three guys that would stand up and say guys this is what we need to do. Unfortunately, no one person had the respect of the entire team.

“Everyone felt they knew what needed to be done to win, we would practice it the week before and come game time we would move away from what we were supposed to be doing. I think defensively we started out good for about the first half of the season, but I think failing to score as much as we felt we should on offence had a negative effect on the mind-set of the defence.

“There is no one person or issue to point at to lay blame on, it was more a collection of little things that would be taken out of proportion and become an unnecessary problem. Don’t get me wrong, we have all of the pieces to field a very dangerous team. Somehow those pieces just didn’t click on all cylinders at the same time.”


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