By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe Eagles flag football team dominated the South Coast Middle School League this year. The R. Roger Rowe School squad of 19 seventh and eighth grade boys capped a perfect, undefeated season with a 32-14 championship victory over Santa Fe Christian on Nov. 7.
In addition to a pizza party, the team members celebrated their victory with a surprise ice-water dousing of their coach while all the parents in the stands on their home field blew kazoos. R. Roger Rowe School Athletic Director Steve Rossier said the hardware is coming —they have to get something to commemorate the undefeated year, which hasn’t happened in a long time for RSF.
The boys went 14-0 for the season, led by longtime coaches Dave Warner and Dave McClurg. Eighth grade running back Sully O’Brien said they were strict at times but were “the best coaches they could’ve had” to get their talented team to their championship.
“I think we had a lot of depth, we didn’t have a lot of weak players,” said Sully, who is described by teammates as an “offensive powerhouse” pouring in more rushing touchdowns than they were able to keep track of.
Another key to the team’s success was its “insane” defense and the players’ experience, many of the players were coming off strong seasons in their seventh grade years, said Kevin Fernandez, eighth grade middle linebacker.
The team’s closeness and camaraderie also made a difference in how they played, said Seth Rossier, eighth grade center.
“We really just came together really well,” Seth said.
“We were cohesive, everyone practiced hard and we blended well together,” agreed Kevin.
The team’s undefeated year was not without challenges, as the team did experience some first-half struggles at times. The team’s most satisfying victories came against Horizon Prep and Santa Fe Christian in the RSF’s first match-up against Santa Fe Christian, as RSF beat them 28-6.
Kevin said they beat Pacific Ridge School “pretty good,” but he actually enjoyed when the team had to work harder for its wins.
“I liked the games that were more competitive because if you go undefeated with no competition it kind of gets boring,” Kevin said.
The championship game last week was very competitive, with both sides taking the game very seriously.
“We scored right off the bat with punt returns, but couldn’t get our one- or two-point conversions…we were down by two at halftime,” Sully said.
“At halftime we were gathered by our coaches and got back in the game,” Kevin said.
Seth said they were able to get up by two scores and put the game away.
All three players will move on from Rowe next year, but they believe their team will be in good hands to defend their title next year, led by incoming eighth grade quarterback Michael Mines.
RSF Eagles flag football team members include (alphabetical order): Spencer Barberree, Danny Burns Brewster, Ryan Cesari, Cameron Dickson, Kevin Fernandez, Ryan Kiernan, Ty Miller, Sully O’brien, Seth Rossier, Elijah Smith, Finn Smith, Lorenzo Patino, Daniel Richardson, Issac Spivak, Frankie Van Den Berg, Michael Mines, Tucker Drawdy, Jack Raser, Nick Van Huizum.