Flag Football Team Wins Chicago Bears Invite


Lake Forest Leader

Calvin McCarthy, Staff Writer

For these senior boys, this tournament was more than just an opportunity to play flag football. It was a chance just to have fun and play just like they did as kids, and a chance to go to Soldier Field. That on-field experience was all relying on just a few games.

While some of the seniors participate in other sports, these boys practiced twice a week and didn’t hesitate to play in rain or snow. Despite differing schedules, they all shared a love for football. The flag football rules are a bit different from the normal game, yet everyone was willing to work hard to perfect their game. They were only given several weeks to prepare, and everything was leading up to the only tournament of the season at The Chicago Bears practice facility in Lake Forest: Halas Hall.

Eight schools from the area were invited to compete in the tournament, and Lake Forest was very optimistic but was also unaware of how real gameplay would go. 

“The rough practices in the snow and rain prepared us for the tournament. Weeks of training leading up to only one day, we had to win,” said senior Shane Rodriguez.

The teams were separated into two pools. They had to be one of the top two teams of their pool to move onto the playoff. Despite the tight competition, the boys rolled over the first three opponents, including a win over St. Rita 28-0 in a slaughter rule. 

Aspects of the team seemed to be clicking. Throughout pool play the defense was suffocating, only letting up 12 points in three games and only six points in the semifinals match. Ex-football players Anthony Ranallo and Robbie Gray, along with Alex Huddleston were lockdown defenders and turnover machines. Lucas Redding also got his fair share of sacks and safeties while chasing down the quarterback. 

On the other side of the ball quarterbacks, Mick Malanfant and Andrew Crawford led the offense. This offense had no shortage of weapons and had skill at every position. Running back Shane Rodriguez ran around defenders while scoring three touchdowns. Plus, Charlie Marks and Michael Vallone were the favorite targets as they accounted for a majority of the yards and scoring throughout the tournament. Yet the team took a devastating blow when Marks went down in the semifinals game.

After a shutout in the semifinals, Lake Forest was set to play Lemont in the final match. They had a shifty quarterback and a well planned out offense, so this was going to be the biggest contest of the day. 

It was a back and forth game, and no team could hold on to a lead. After being down at several points during the game, the Scouts only needed one more touchdown to finish out the clock. As time was winding down, Crawford threw a prayer deep into the endzone, and Vallone snatched it away from several other defenders to win the championship. 

A couple of seconds passed and the Scouts stormed the field, joining together to celebrate. Frantically running around the turf, the boys jumped around with a golden trophy hoisted up above their heads.  Finally, The Scouts have accomplished what they have been training for weeks. 

From training out in the muddy rain, and pushing through the freezing snow, The Lake Forest Varsity flag football team was finally State Champions. They finally earned the chance to visit Soldier Field and meet some of the players that created their love for football.