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Refs put damper on Nassau trip
Oct 26, 2012, 9:46 am

Officiating continues to be a thorn in the side of Cayman Islands flag football. 

Cayman’s national teams bemoaned the referees at the annual invitational tournament staged by the Bahamas Flag Football League in Nassau, Bahamas this month. 

Cayman Islands Flag Football Association President Jermaine Sharpe states the officiating factored into a runner-up finish for the men’s squad. 

“It was a combination of bad calls and the team not gelling as much as we’d like before we went,” Sharpe said. “The first two games, which we lost, was a gelling process. The time to prepare was short, we had to find a replacement coach at the last minute in ‘Edge’ (Adrean Russell).” 

The men’s side went 3-3 in group play before losing in the finals to the Freeport Alliance, who are male champions for the second straight year. The women’s squad would repeat as tournament winners by going 6-0 and defeating the New Providence-based G-Fit Pink Foxes, the 2012 Bahamian league champs, in the title game. 

Among the stars for the ladies was Carrie Barnett, who played for 2012 women’s champions the Burger King Wolverines. Barnett states the refs hampered matches for both sexes. 

“There were foolish calls left, right and centre,” Barnett said. “The refs there are worse than here. Based on what the refs said to us, the tournament wasn’t designed for Cayman to win.  

“They changed the rules on us in the finals but it didn’t make a difference, our defence had it on lock. Last year we won, everyone prepared for us and the Pink Foxes were put together specifically to beat us. They didn’t score on us. 

“Our men should have won the final as they had like 10 touchdowns taken from them. For the guys, I don’t know what to say. They won the final even though they lost. Renford Barnes had a big TD catch overruled. The refs were a disaster.” 

Cayman replicated last year’s form where two female teams made the finals (the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association won) while the men’s side lost in the title game. Interestingly, the Grand Cayman association did not field a squad this year but all of the ladies play for clubs in the Dart Women’s League. 

From the Bahamian side of things, the tournament was a success. Tournament and league director Jayson Clarke focused on the results rather than the officiating. 

“Overall, the tournament was excellent,” Clarke said. “In my view, this is the best we have had in three years. The first year it was so new we were giving persons time to catch on. The second time we hosted it, which was 2011, it was pretty good. But this time around, it was excellent. A higher calibre of players and games.  

“The level of play was very good and the turnout, in terms of fan support, was great. The games were pretty well-organized and games were ran on time. To me, this is the best we have ever had.” 

A total of 13 teams took part with eight men’s sides and five women’s squads. Matches took place at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. Cayman were represented by 20 male players in Damian Barboram, Renford Barnes, Phil Brown, Jonathan Carter, Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks, Steve Ebanks, Andrew Frederick, Taj Haye, Chester Hurlston, Perry Levy, Brendon Malice, Jeremy Miller, Nathan Narcisse, Josh Parsons, Adrean Russell, Jermaine Sharpe, David Taylor, Rhod Taylor, Andrew Wisdom and Rupert Whittaker. 

Cayman suited up 14 ladies in Carrie Barnett, Cassandra Bodden, Erica Bosch, Tanjana Campbell, Adrianna Christian, Jennifer Cotarelo, Maggie Ebanks, Antoinette Lewis, Alexandria Saintvil, Camille Solomon, Treveen Stewart, Jahzenia Thomas, Benieca Thompson and Dionne Whittaker. 

Sharpe states many of those players had a good showing. 

“We had six tryouts, 18 women were selected for the final but 14 travelled. Alexandria was the Most Valuable Player for the tournament and Dionne, our quarterback, looked good at the helm. Adrianna, Jahzenia, Erica and Carrie did well as cornerbacks. The girls did well as a whole. 

“David was our kicker and he put up some good points for us. Our defensive line, with Damian, Rhod, Chester and Jonathan, and our linebackers Brendon and Phil did well. The rookie cornerbacks in Nathan and Josh, with Perry and Renford at the back as safeties, did well. “The defence did well and that carried us. We had a rough time at the offensive end. Frecko did well at quarterback but execution had to be more down-pat.” 

Eight of the guys are members of the dms West Bay Hellcats, who have won four straight national championships. Seven men played for the Burger King Panthers, two starred for the Cox Colts and the rest represented the Club House Bulldogs, Maples Packers and the Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes. 

Five ladies (Campbell, Christian, Ebanks, Stewart, Whittaker) played for the Zulu Warriors. Bodden represented the Androgroup Killa-Panthers, Bosch played for the Lone-Star Jager Monsters, Cotarelo represented the HOT 104.1FM Cheetahs, Solomon excelled for the Maples Bliss and five women (Barnett, Lewis, Saintvil, Thomas, Thompson) starred for the Wolverines. 

Barnett spoke about her performance. 

“I got a couple of interceptions, I made a big play in the final with a trick play. Alexandria also got interceptions. With Adrean as our coach, no one scored on us.” 


Saintvil steadies Nassau repeat
Oct 26, 2012, 9:45 am

The Cayman Islands retained its place as one of the Caribbean’s best flag football nations.

Cayman would produce an undefeated women’s team and a finalist in the men’s segment of the annual invitational tournament staged by the Bahamas Flag Football League. The competition took place in Nassau, Bahamas last weekend.

Cayman Islands Flag Football Association President Jermaine Sharpe spoke about how the teams did.

“The women swept the tournament and the men were runners-up again,” Sharpe said. “The men went 3-3 before losing on controversial referee decisions against Freeport in the final.

“The ladies were 6-0, winning all their group games then the semis and the finals. The women were from most of the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association teams. There was only a CIFFA team this year, there was no GCFFA team.”

Cayman replicated last year’s form where two female teams made the finals (the Grand Cayman association won) while the men’s side lost in the title game.

In 2012, the ladies were guided by three members of the Burger King Wolverines, the national women’s champions, in Alexandria Saintvil, Jahzenia Thomas and Carrie Barnett. Among the top male performers were Jonathan Carter of the Burger King Panthers, Josh Parsons of the Club House Bulldogs and Renford Barnes of the dms West Bay Hellcats.

For the Bahamas, the Freeport Alliance would emerge male champions for the second straight year with the G-Fit Pink Foxes as female runners-up. A total of 13 teams took part with eight men’s sides and five women’s squads.

The Cayman teams arrived back on Tuesday after playing at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. Sharpe states he had his hands full in Nassau.

“I served as defensive coach for the women. I was a defensive lineman for the men but then switched to snapper. We needed an athletic centre and we moved ball.”


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

 


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