By Melisa Adatepe, Staff Writer
// As their first season comes to a close, the flag football team (8-3 overall, 4-3 league) has forged a strong reputation for themselves.
The Dons started their season winning three straight games against Berean Christian, College Park, and Miramonte on Sept. 13 and Sept. 20.
On Sept. 20, the Dons lost their first game 12-10 against Clayton Valley Charter.
“Clayton Valley was a competitive game, and they are a tough opponent. I think that we learned a lot from that game, mostly about what plays work and which ones don’t, what to do when we are facing a competitive team, and I think we’ve grown from that,” senior Ella Thomason said.
Dusting themselves off quickly, the team came back with a bang, defeating Campolindo 26-6 and Miramonte 33-7 on Sept. 27.
On Oct. 4, the Dons’ winning streak was interrupted by a close six-point loss to Berean Christian with touchdowns by sophomore Maya Shoenhair and senior Monica Dikova.
“For the Berean game, honestly the reason why that was difficult is because it was super hot that day, and our game was at 3 o’clock…they won by one catch, they won by one play, it would’ve tied going into overtime,” Dikova said.
Recovering with their trademark resilience, the team shut out Alhambra on the same day and converted 18 points. Senior Dakota Goyert, Thomason, and junior Addie McShane had impressive defensive performances featuring batted-down passes, sacks, and interceptions.
The latest double-header hosted a delightful Senior night ceremony. It included showdowns against rival Campolindo, ending in a divisive Acalanes victory and an ever-so-close 6-7 loss to Northgate.
The Dons held the Broncos to one 55-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the game. Senior Jenna Steele secured a pick-6; however, the Dons could not convert the game-tying extra point.
“We had a good chance of winning. We had the ball down near their endzone at the very end of the game, and we could not punch it in, it was nobody’s fault… We had more yardage than they did, more time of possession,” Assistant Coach Steve Seiler said.
More impressively, the flag football team learned key football terminology and strategy with great success within the six to eight weeks of playing as a team. Their success stemmed from the expertise of the coaching staff and the girls’ eager desire to expand their knowledge.
“Each of these kids…they’re running high school offenses with high school plays and their wristbands. They know all the terminology regarding where you’re supposed to be, the X’s and Os, the different types of things that a high school football, college football, or NFL player would know, and they’ve learned this in a month,” Seiler said.
This group of female athletes has started a new tradition at Acalanes that future generations will reap the benefits of in years to come.
“Just the feeling of leaving a legacy and being surrounded by my teammates who I’ve come to view as a family, is just so cool. Being a part of the first team ever is just such a cool concept. I haven’t really thought about that, but I know it’s going to be something I’m going to remember once I graduate,” Thomason said.