NCS falls short in bid for third Unified flag football title
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 Charter players pose with their runner-up trophy following the Unified flag football championship at Delaware Stadium on Saturday.
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 Charter’s Anthony Ambra slips past two Smyrna defenders during the Unified flag football championship at Delaware Stadium on Saturday.