Flag football entered the consciousness of Georgia’s rabid football fans with a big splash on Monday.

The sport, sanctioned by the GSHA for the first time, produced two exciting, down-to-the-wire games at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium. If this is an indication of what the sport could become, the GHSA has a winner on its hands.

Because of the participation – fewer than 100 schools competed this year because of COVID-19 – there was a large classification and a small classification. That will likely expand going forward, as GHSA executive director Robin Hines said there could be 200-plus schools that field a flag team in 2021.

The first championships were won by Calvary Day of Savannah, which defeated Portal 6-0 in the Class A-5A division, and West Forsyth, which outslugged Hillgrove 26-25 in double overtime in the Class 6A-7A division

West Forsyth coach Mike Pruitt said, “To win the first one of something means a lot. You saw how competitive these girls are. We just happened to have one more play than they did.”

West Forsyth quarterback Haylee Dornan, center, scores the game-winning extra point. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
West Forsyth quarterback Haylee Dornan, center, scores the game-winning extra point. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Calvary Day coach Chad Griffin said, “This is just an amazing experience for our girls. To have it in a place like this and for GPB to televise it, it’s a great thing. This is something our girls will remember for as long as they live.”

Calvary Day scored its touchdown when Katie Ellenwood caught an 11-yard pass from Hannah Cail. “I just told myself not to drop it,” Ellenwood said.

But Calvary Day didn’t secure the victory until Neveah Hamilton intercepted a pass at the goal line with 1:24 remaining.

Ellenwood said, “It’s an honor to win this. We didn’t even think about this happening when we started. It was just a new sport. And to be able to win the first one is special.”

West Forsyth needed two overtimes to bring home its trophy. The Wolverines tied the game in the second OT when quarterback Haylee Doman scampered around the corner and dove inside the pylon for the score. Doman then kept it again for the winning extra-point run.

“I saw that gap and I wanted it and so I just went for it,” Doman said. “It means everything. I am so proud of these girls. We said last year our goal was to be here and I’m so proud we accomplished that.”

Hines gave the Atlanta Falcons credit for helping the sport get a foothold in Georgia. The NFL club offered sponsorships to help schools start their programs and hosted the state semifinals at the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity to allow these girls a chance to compete for a state championship,” the GHSA executive director said. “It’s the culmination of three years of hard work and we’re happy to have a partnership with the Atlanta Falcons and we’re happy that Georgia Public Broadcasting made the decision to televise the games. I think a lot of people have seen what a good sport this is.”

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