Winter Wonderland
Dec 23, 2008 | 6872 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Although technically it was not winter yet, it felt like it on Saturday, December 20, 2008 when the Long Island City YMCA finished up the first season of its Youth Flag Football League. The temperature was near the freezing mark and there were about four inches of snow on the ground but the fire was burning hot in the players as the teams stepped onto the Queens West Field to play the championships. The league had two divisions and the in the Heisman Division the top seed Golden Gators were playing the upstart Invaders with the top seed Vipers playing the Bombers in the Lombardi Division.

In the first game, the Golden Gators came in extremely confident and with good reason, they were undefeated so far in the season. The Invaders also came in riding high as they had upset the number two seed Black Panthers in the semi-finals. Both teams were led by fast, flashy and confident quarterbacks. The game was tight all the way with the Invaders giving the Gators all they could handle. The snow seemed to be the great equalizer. Each team took their turn either getting one great scoring play after another.

The Golden Gators scored with nine seconds left in the game to take a three point lead. Could this be it or did the Invaders and their quarterback have one miracle left? The Gators got a good kick-off but the Invaders returned the favor with a good run back and it looked like they were going to score on a kick-off return, going up the left sideline, but were stopped on a holding penalty by the defense. So now they had one play with four seconds left. The coach, Eli Linthicum, called timeout to set up one final play. The Invaders came out confident but the Gators were also just as confident. The play developed like a pass play but it broke down. Quarterback Mazi Brickous, who had led the team all season, ran left then spun right, shook back to the left and then sprinted right for the end zone. It looked like he was going to score and end the perfect season of the Gators. As he neared the end zone Billy Robinson of the Gators and him were in a footrace for the cone. Mazi dove for the cone and Billy dove for Mazi. It looked like Mazi had scored but there was Billy holding the flag on the two yard line, securing the championship and preserving the undefeated season for the Gators with a 54-51 win. The team celebrated with the youthful enthusiasm that a championship always seems to bring out.

In the Lombardi Division championship game the highly favored Vipers played a great game led by their MVP quarterback Darryl Hudson and all-star Dont’e Debour. Hudson kept everyone involved in the offense but the real difference in the game was the defense which stopped the Bombers led by their quarterback Demond Merritt and wide-out/defensive back Luany Viera on successive first half possessions inside the two yard line. The Bombers still had a chance in the final seconds after a kick-off return for a touchdown but the ensuing onsides kick was recovered by Arnee Wells and the Vipers ran out the clock.

The real story though was that the first season for the LIC YMCA Youth Flag Football League served 100 boys and girls mostly from western Queens. This program was made possible through a Discretionary Grant from the New York City Council—District #26 represented by Council Eric Gioia and a grant from the Citibank Foundation. The league focuses its registration efforts in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood sections of Queens, but serves children from all over Queens and the city. The program emphasized learning the game of football and developing athletic and social skills while practicing the YMCA's core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring. For more information on becoming a volunteer coach or about sports programs offered by the LIC YMCA, call Thomas Sylvester at 718-392-7932, ext 239 or e-mail

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