Even though it was not contact football under the bright lights in a sold-out stadium, the tenacious youngsters in the De Phillips Athletic Club (DAC) flag football championship played like they were earning a paycheck on the gridiron.
The Wolverines defeated the Titans 21-7 in the championship contest on Sunday, November 22. The 10 to 11-year-old Wolverines, a majority of whose players hail from Queens, went 12-2 during the regular season.
During the championship game, the Wolverines were all business.
“At the end of the first half, we were losing 7-6,” said Wolverines head coach Dennis Ricotta. “When that second half started, those kids just exploded and we took over.”
After the Titans took the lead in the first half, the Wolverines quickly snapped out of their offensive slump and blanked the Titans for the rest of the game. With a couple deep passes down the field from Wolverines quarterback Ryan Neuweiler, the Queens team of 10 youngsters gained football glory and took home their well-deserved trophies.
Along with the championship, the Wolverines were also awarded their trophies for winning the eastern division championship – twice the hardware; twice the smiles.
What made this championship win more amazing was the fact that the Wolverines are a rookie team – with most of the kids never having played football before.
“This season was awesome for me and my kids,” said Rich Neuweiler, father of twins Charlie and Ryan, who both play on the team. “My boys had never played football before and now have a championship under their belts.”
Each kid on the Queens team had an equal role in the championship victory. Nobody was relegated to a specific position – except quarterback – which, in turn, gave everyone an opportunity to shine on offense and defense.
The kids played their home games along with the championship match at Padavan-Preller field on Hillside Avenue. Having home field advantage really paid off when they faced the Titans, who were all a little older and stronger than the Wolverines.
“I was nervous when I first saw the Titans, but that all changed when we started to beat them,” said excited Wolverine Nicolas Rathcamp. “They had a lot of talent, but we just came over the top and took home the trophy.”
In the rules of DAC flag football, the start of every season means a new drafted team for everyone. Coach Ricotta is prepared for the loss of his dream team, but he is doing everything he can to rally his troops and get them to join a traveling team with him next season.