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OCHS Girls Flag Football Finds Early Success

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An Ocean City player runs with the football.

By ANDREW FASY

Currently a club sport, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) is positioned to sanction flag football for female student-athletes as an official varsity sport for the 2025 season.

Flag football would be the 35th sport sanctioned by the NJSIAA, and the fifth spring sport offered for girls.

Starting with a grant from the Philadelphia Eagles, OCHS started a two-year pilot program for girls flag football in 2023. Approximately 20 states have NFL-sponsored girls flag football leagues at the high school level.

Some of the players and coaches for the girls flag football team pose for a group photo.

In New Jersey, there are currently 83 high school teams with more than 2,000 girls participating in this fast-growing sport. There are 22 players on the 2024 Ocean City team, up from 11 players in last year’s inaugural season.

Two-way starter and junior Danna Ramirez said of the sport, “I love playing football. Our team is growing together and making history for future generations.”

The Ocean City High School girls flag football team has a 4-1 record, following a 20-6 win over the Pleasantville Greyhounds and a 21-0 win over the Middle Township Panthers last week.

“We play hard, and I feel like we are improving every game,” freshman quarterback Savannah Rolls said.

Ocean City calls a pass play.

Ocean City Head Coach Patty Kelly, an OCHS special education teacher, stressed the teamwork aspect of flag football.

“Flag football brings together kids from different athletic backgrounds who have come together as a team. They are having some success on the field while having fun and supporting each other,” Kelly said. “We have a young team, with no seniors on this year’s squad. We’re still learning the game and coming together as a team, but that puts us in a good position for the coming years.”

Ocean City plays in the West Jersey Football League, which has a total of 24 teams from the South Jersey area.

There are four divisions of six teams each. Ocean City will play a six-game regular season schedule, with five games within the American Division against Hammonton, Mainland, Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township and Delsea.

Players left to right: Kaia Ray, Savannah Rolls and Danna Ramirez.

They will also play a cross-over game against Kingsway of the Royal Division. Then they hope to qualify for the playoffs, and ultimately compete for the West Jersey Football League Championship.

Assistant Coach Tara MacDonald, an English teacher at the high school, said she was happy to support student-athletes who wanted to compete in a spring sport, but couldn’t find the right fit in another spring sport like track and field or softball.

“These girls are athletic and competitive,” MacDonald said. “It’s fun to be a part of this.”

The coaching staff also includes OCHS students Jaden Sanchez and Kevin Rafael, the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.

Junior team captain Kaia Ray proudly quoted the team motto: “Special team. Special plays. Special players.”

From left, coaches Kevin Rafael, Jaden Sanchez, Patty Kelly and Tara MacDonald.

 

Paid for by Michael DeVlieger