NA­TION­ALLY NO­TICED

Lo­rain flag foot­ball team head­ing to Or­lando for tour­na­ment

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bri­ana Con­tr­eras bcon­tr­[email protected]­ingjour­nal.com @MJ_B­con­tr­eras on Twit­ter

Lo­rain Mon­stars Recre­ational Flag Foot­ball team will be mak­ing a first ap­pear­ance Jan. 18-20 at the Bat­tle Or­lando Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in Or­lando, Flor­ida.

The Mon­stars are the No. 1 seed na­tion­ally in the Flag Foot­ball World Cham­pi­onship Tour’s recre­ational foot­ball divi­sion.

The team has been around since 2009 com­pet­ing in the Greater Cleve­land League, but within the past year has taken their com­pe­ti­tion to na­tion­als, ac­cord­ing to the team’s Coach/ Owner Jun Rios.

A team made of 26 tal­ented ath­letes of Lo­rain has worked their way to get to this level and the play­ers are look­ing for­ward to the com­pe­ti­tion, Rios said.

“We know we have the tal­ent and abil­ity, it’s just that one step we’re fo­cused on.”

— Player Markus Younkin

The team will be play­ing for bids in their recre­ational divi­sion for an en­try to an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment in May at the Dal­las Cow­boy’s Foot­ball Sta­dium in Texas.

Rios, 31, said play­ers on the team are look­ing for­ward to rep­re­sent­ing Lo­rain as the city’s only recre­ational flag foot­ball team in a com­pe­ti­tion full of tal­ented play­ers around the coun­try.

Player Markus Younkin said the Mon­stars are also plan­ning to face off in a re­match against a Penn­syl­va­nia-based team who beat them in a pre­vi­ous tour­na­ment this year.

“We know we have the tal­ent and abil­ity, it’s just that one step we’re fo­cused on,” Younkin, 27, said.

Player Zeno In­chau­r­regui, Younkin and Rios said the team’s main fo­cus is play­ing for a for­mer team­mate, friend and brother they lost to an asthma at­tack in June 2017, Desmine Bur­ton.

Bur­ton passed away at the age of 28.

In­chau­r­regui, 28, said the team has de­vel­oped much since their start in 2009.

They’ve won over 17 lo­cal tour­na­ments dur­ing that time, but they wanted to play harder and chal­lenge them­selves for their for­mer team­mate.

Tak­ing their tal­ents to a na­tional level has al­ready pro­vided them with a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties, one lead­ing them to Or­lando.

The play­ers wear Bur­ton’s No. 3 on their uni­forms, which are col­ored in pur­ple for asthma aware­ness.

“2019 we’re not play­ing,” Rios said. “We’re ready to do more for Desmine and for our team.”

Younkin said after each game or tour­na­ment, the team vis­its Bur­ton’s grave to cel­e­brate his im­pact on them.

He said they have al­ways been known as a fam­ily, but the loss of their team­mate brought them closer.

The team hopes to bring him home a cham­pi­onship win after the tour­na­ment is over, he added.

Rios said the team has grown.

He said his ini­tial goal was to give tal­ented ath­letes or those seek­ing a pos­i­tive out­let, an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop with oth­ers.

“That’s the crazy part about our team, we’re a mosh-pit of play­ers who don’t have D-1 ex­pe­ri­ence, but at the same time, we’re com­pet­ing with D-1, D-2 col­lege ath­letes or ex-pro­fes­sional play­ers,” Younkin said. “It re­ally means a lot to us to see the growth from where we’ve come from a team that was just hav­ing fun, to a team that re­ally is ex­celling against top-notch tal­ent.”

Younkin said him­self and other play­ers have ex­celled as play­ers and have grown with good com­pe­ti­tion.

“It shows we were a prac­tice team, ba­si­cally, to now be known as a team that is na­tion­ally known, “he said. “We did it and now we just have to make one more step.”

Rios said with their growth, he’s no­ticed a need to give back to the city’s youth and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for all ages to play.

He and the team said they are in the works of mak­ing those op­por­tu­ni­ties hap­pen.

“That’s the crazy part about our team, we’re a mosh-pit of play­ers who don’t have D-1 ex­pe­ri­ence, but at the same time, we’re com­pet­ing with D-1, D-2 col­lege ath­letes or ex­pro­fes­sional play­ers.”

— Player Markus Younkin

BRI­ANA CON­TR­ERAS — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

The Lo­rain Mon­stars Recre­ational Flag Foot­ball team will make a first ap­pear­ance Jan. 18-20 at the Bat­tle Or­lando Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in Or­lando, Flor­ida. The team is the No. 1 seed na­tion­ally in the Flag Foot­ball World Cham­pi­onship Tour’s recre­ational foot­ball divi­sion.

BRI­ANA CON­TR­ERAS — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

The Lo­rain Mon­stars Recre­ational Flag Foot­ball team will be mak­ing a first ap­pear­ance Jan. 18-20 at the Bat­tle Or­lando Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in Or­lando, Flor­ida. The team is the No. 1 seed na­tion­ally in the Flag Foot­ball World Cham­pi­onship Tour’s recre­ational foot­ball divi­sion. The Lo­rain team sports uni­forms pro­vided by Move In Silent while prac­tic­ing at Lo­rain Lost Na­tion Sports Com­plex.

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