Flag football

For the first time in state of Tennessee, Williamson County high schools will take part in a pilot program for a girls flag football league sponsored by the Tennessee Titans.

Starting this Sunday, nine teams will face two teams back to back on Sunday afternoons for four weeks. This will culminate in a postseason tournament at Nissan Stadium in May. Teams are guaranteed another season next year. On year three, it will be added to the TSSAA sanctioned spring sports.

Coaches and players met at Mafioza’s restaurant on Wednesday night in a press conference to discuss the upcoming season.

Ravenwood started off the night with flag footballers Kennedy Riggs and Macy Fowler, head coach Will Hester and assistant coach/soccer state champion coach Jessica Mancini.

“I couldn’t do it before, so I guess I am living the dream,” said Ravenwood head flag football coach and tackle football head coach Will Hester. “One football team is pretty tough, coaching two is twice as tough, but the girls have made it easy.”

“I think it is really cool building a foundation for the younger grades,” said Ravenwood senior Kennedy Riggs. “Maybe I will inspire them to do it next year. Hopefully a lot of the students will come out and see how cool the sport is and get more involved.”

“I was super excited, if I am being honest,” said Ravenwood assistant coach Jessica Mancini. “I would have loved this opportunity in high school. I jumped at the opportunity when Coach Hester asked if I wanted to help.”

Ravenwood will face Nolensville first and then have the first installment of the Battle of the Woods.

“I think the regular season is going to be a learning situation for all of us,” said Coach Hester. “You are going to want to play your best football for the tournament at the end. It will be exciting for these girls to get those big games in other sports and now to do it in this environment.”

“We are really going in blind,” said Coach Mancini. “We know the athletes that are playing for them. They know the athletes that are playing for us, but it is wide open. Any team can show up and play better than the other. I will enjoy seeing how it evolves and what the girls do this weekend.”

“It is exciting,” said Fowler. “They (Brentwood and Nolensville) are two of our biggest competitors, so we hopefully get a lot of people out there to watch and grow the sport more.”

“I am always excited to play Brentwood,” said Riggs. “It brings out the competitiveness out of us so much more just because we want to win so badly.”

Centennial was the next school to be interviewed with head coach Matt Kriesky and assistant coach Jonathon Parks. The flag football players interviewed were seniors Tyra Petway and Kaiya Cooper.

“It has been fun,” said Centennial head coach Matt Kriesky. “Our girls have been really eager to learn and find us during school and ask some questions. It has been really neat seeing these girls interest from the first practice and wanting to practice more.”

“I have two daughters at home, and I am always trying to teach them football and how to say touchdown,” said Centennial assistant coach Jonathon Parks. “Around Centennial, if you have never been to a powderpuff game during homecoming week, it is so exciting. I hope we have the same excitement with our student body when we get started with this on Sunday.”

“It is exciting especially to be the first group and start this for future generations,” said Tyra Petway.

Centennial will start their season playing Franklin in the Battle of Franklin.

“It is a rival game and team,” said Petway. “It should be a pretty good kickoff,”

“It will be neat to start off with the Battle of Franklin,” said Coach Kriesky. “Coach [Donnie] Webb has been sending me text messages to get ready, drawing up formations and talking trash already.”

Next up was Brentwood High School with head coach Gabe Evans and flag football senior Kendall Overgaard along with junior Brooke Brummett.

“I have a five year old daughter that comes to all my football games and is always wanting to ask questions,” said Coach Evans. “I want her to see her Dad coach a female sport.”

“I am excited for the younger girls to come out and support,” said Brummett. “Knowing they will be able to do it in a few years is really awesome.”

“I heard about it from the other states and I was a little jealous of them,” said Overgaard. “It is really fun to take a step out there and try something else.”

Brentwood will start their season playing Ravenwood in Nolensville.

“I am personally excited for this game,” said Brooke Brummett. “Everyone knows that Ravenwood is our rival, so I am looking forward to it.”

“I think playing our rival first game will bring out a lot of energy,” said Kendall Overgaard. “I think this is a different type of hype that we are going to bring out.”

“The Ravenwood and Brentwood rivalry is so interesting for us because our kids grow up going to the same churches, playing little league with each other, and then they split when they get to middle school and sometimes high school,” said Coach Evans. “We are excited that that is our first opportunity.”

Independence took the stage next, bringing head coach Andre Flowers and flag footballers Ali Kemble and Madeline Marcus.

“Knowing my daughters would be able to see me coach females is huge,” said Coach Flowers.

Independence will play Summit in the first Sunday of games.

“I think it is an advantage for sure,” said Ali Kemble. “Summit is our rival; all the girls are super pumped up.”

“Summit is our rival,” said Madeline Marcus. “Of course, I want to beat them.”

Nolensville was up next with head coach Pat Curran and flag footballers Courtney Williams and Sara Kulkarni.

“I am really excited about it,” said Coach Curran. “I think it is a really special thing.”

“I feel honored to be a part of this,” said Courtney Williams. “We can be role models to younger girls, and they can look up and say I want to play flag football someday.”

“If you would have told me in elementary or middle school I would have been able to play flag football, I would not think it was possible,” said Sara Kulkarni. “I hope that other girls that are in elementary and middle school now see it as a normal thing.”

Nolensville will start with Brentwood and Ravenwood on the first Sunday schedule.

“I feel like it is anyone’s game, but I am confident in our team,” said Kulkarni.

Page was up next with head coach Charles Rathbone and flag footballers Tia Atkinson, Addison Duggar and Kyla Davis.

“If you know me, you know that football saved my life,” said Rathbone. “Without football I would not be here today; I am passionate about this sport.”

“I think it pushes me harder to have a really good season,” said Duggar.

“I think it is important because we get to start something great,” said Davis. “You get to start on the right foot.”

“It pushes me to do my best and be a leader, because it is the only year I get to do it,” said Atkinson. “I want to set the tone for all the schools and communities.”

Summit was the next to be interviewed under the head coaching of Tae Martin and participating flag football seniors Cydney Wright and Mckinley Johnson.

“I take pride in it, and I am ready to go out there and compete,” said Coach Tae Martin.

Summit will play Independence on the first Sunday.

“The feelings are mutual on playing Independence,” said Johnson. “Indy/Summit is one of the best weeks in any sport. They are the number one team I am excited to play.”

“I am always excited for a border battle,” said Wright.

Franklin was next to be interviewed with head coach Donnie Webb, assistant coach Makayla Beebe and flag football seniors Abby Pillow and Sophia Rattan.

“Back when I was still the football coach at Franklin, the Titans wanted head coaches to be a part of this,” said Coach Webb. “Don’t come out here saying we are powder puff, because we are playing flag football.”

“I was super excited when they first talked about it,” said Rattan. “I can see it going really far and being super successful.”

Franklin will play Centennial in the first game Sunday.

“It is such a strong rivalry that motivates us,” said Ratten. “Both schools being so close is a friendly competition.”

Fairview was the last to speak about the season with head coach Chris Hughes and flag football seniors Alyssa Berg and Alyssa Andrea.

“The girls are giving my guys a hard time telling me they (flag football) will win a state championship before they do,” said Coach Hughes. “I love the game of football, and I would coach junior pro if they asked me to.”

“It feels really good,” said Berg. “We are making history, and I am really excited to see how the season is going to go.”

“It is an amazing thing,” said Andrea. “I was not going to play, and then my little sister came up to me. She was so excited I was going to play. It made me want to play.”