Girls flag football is in its second season of a three-year CHSAA trial period and seems to be nudging its way into the sports vocabulary of many schools.
The sport has been helped with funding from the Denver Broncos but still needs to be sanctioned by the CHSAA.
“Last year we had 22 schools making about 28 teams and having about 500 girls,” said Bobby Mestas, the Broncos director of youth and high school football. “Now I would say we have 51 schools making up 74 teams and the final numbers count is still out, but the sport has grown quite a bit.
“It’s a lot of fun to play. It’s quick to learn. You don’t need five years of skill development to play high school flag. It’s fast paced and everybody can go out and have success as long as they work hard.”
Girls flag football is a 7-on-7 game with no blocking and fumbles are automatically considered dead balls.
The field is 60 yards long and 30 yards wide.
Once a team is within five yards of the endzone, no runs are allowed, and the quarterbacks can only run if being rushed.
“It’s fun for the girls to make some new friends, play a game that they’ve always just had to watch,” said Darren Pitzner, the coach for the Legend High School girls’ team. “For me growing up, I was always drawing up plays in the dirt and developed a love for the game that way. The girls have made a lot of friends, a ton of smiles and a ton of highlights.”
Four regional tournaments were held on Oct. 7 with the top four teams in each region advancing to a 16-team state tournament on Oct. 14 at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
Arvada West, Legend, Chaparral and Mountain Vista advanced from the Region 1 playoffs at Echo Park Stadium.
A wide variety of girls make up the flag football rosters and most of them enjoy the opportunity to play.
For instance Chaparral quarterback Courtney Giles is the Jaguars’ homecoming queen and senior class president.
Mountain Vista’s Addyson Devlin wanted to be among the first players in the sport.
“I’ve always wanted to play flag football, but I never really had the time because I was always into soccer and other sports,” said Devlin. “It seemed like a good opportunity to be one of the first girls to play flag football at our school.
“I’m a quarterback and just absolutely love it. It’s way more fun than I thought it would be. The team and the atmosphere is just incredible. Flag footballhas really become a cool thing, everybody at school is always talking about it and how they want to join.”
Legend’s Ava Gavi is a basketball player trying to stay in shape.
“I play basketball and I thought flag football might keep me in shape,” she said. “So, I just decided to try this out and it’s really fun so I’m glad I decided to do it.
“It is a lot more fun than I expected and I wasn’t expecting to play any defense. I was expecting to just be a receiver but I am playing both offense and defense. I think a lot more people will try out for flag football next year.”
That is what Mestas is hoping for too.
“We’re anxious to kind of see where it goes from here,“ he said. “The next step is to try to build growth outside of Denver.
“There were a lot of Denver Metro schools that wanted to play. Now we need to branch out and get the Western slope, Northern Colorado, Southern Colorado and bring in the rest of state.”