NCS falls short in bid for third Uni­fied flag foot­ball ti­tle

Newark Post - - SPORTS - By DAN ROSEN­FIELD Spe­cial to the Post

Play­ing in its third-straight Uni­fied flag foot­ball state cham­pi­onship, Ne­wark Char­ter School fell short of earn­ing an­other ti­tle Satur­day, los­ing to Smyrna, 26-12, at Delaware Sta­dium.

The Pa­tri­ots reached the ti­tle game after re­turn­ing just two play­ers from last year’s cham­pi­onship team, and head coach Jake Sch­nei­der had noth­ing but praise for his squad this year.

“Just to get here to this point is a huge ac­com­plish­ment, es­pe­cially for this bunch,” Sch­nei­der said. “This isn’t the same team that has won state cham­pi­onships in the past. We had two re­turn­ing play­ers from last year, and to work the way they did, I’m re­ally proud of them.”

The Ea­gles snagged an early lead with a touch­down within the first five min­utes be­fore NCS stopped their two-point con­ver­sion. NCS struck back when Yu­val Grif­fin caught a long touch­down pass from quar­ter­back Elyan An­sah, but the Pa­tri­ots could not get the ex­tra point.

Smyrna then com­pleted an­other long pass for a touch­down and con­verted a two-point con­ver­sion to take back the lead.

NCS couldn’t get any­thing go­ing un­til Jor­dan Wy­att caught a 26-yard touch­down pass late in the game.

How­ever, the Ea­gles scored once more and ex­tended their lead to 26-12 with about two min­utes re­main­ing in the game.

NCS se­nior Han­nah Tressler, a three-year mem­ber of the squad, said that de­spite the loss, she en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“To be here with my team­mates, they are my fam­ily,” Tressler said.

The Uni­fied cham­pi­onship, a part­ner­ship be­tween Spe­cial Olympics Delaware and the Delaware In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, is now in its third year. Each team has three Spe­cial Olympics ath­letes and two uni­fied part­ners (peers with­out dis­abil­i­ties) on the field at the same time. The Pa­tri­ots won the ti­tle the first two years the sport was of­fered, de­feat­ing McKean in the 2016 cham­pi­onship and beat­ing Smyrna in 2017.

“Uni­fied flag foot­ball has been around for three years, and we’ve been in the cham­pi­onship ev­ery year,” Sch­nei­der said. “So I think that’s be­come the ex­pec­ta­tion for Char­ter to be in the state cham­pi­onship. But, we’ve just got to do our job and game plan a bit bet­ter and maybe we’ll be back here next year be­cause it’s a real honor to come here.”

As in past years, the Uni­fied game was played in be­tween the Divi­sion 1 and Divi­sion 2 foot­ball state cham­pi­onship games.

“We’re lucky enough to play in be­tween D1 and D2 state cham­pi­onships,“Sch­nei­der said. “We’re glad DIAA puts us here, and I think we deser ve to be here.”

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Ne­wark Char­ter play­ers pose with their run­ner-up tro­phy fol­low­ing the Uni­fied flag foot­ball cham­pi­onship at Delaware Sta­dium on Satur­day.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Ne­wark Char­ter’s Jor­dan Wy­att pre­pares to catch a pass, which turned out to be a 26-yard touch­down, dur­ing the Uni­fied flag foot­ball cham­pi­onship at Delaware Sta­dium on Satur­day.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Ne­wark Char­ter’s An­thony Am­bra slips past two Smyrna de­fend­ers dur­ing the Uni­fied flag foot­ball cham­pi­onship at Delaware Sta­dium on Satur­day.

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