The Will Rice College freshman flag football team came into the season with high expectations after last year’s title. On Tuesday, it lived up to those hopes with a 14-6 win over Wiess College to conclude another championship season. According to Will Rice freshman flag co-head coaches Yanni Economou and Ben Herndon-Miller, this marks Will Rice’s fifth freshman flag championship in the past seven years.
Wins came easy for the Will Rice team this season as it outscored its opponents by 96 points en route to a 7-0 record. However, it got off to a slow start offensively against Wiess. Quarterback Marcus Alvarez-Arango threw two interceptions early on, leading to a 0-0 score at halftime.
The second half shifted the tone of the game for Will Rice as a touchdown run and subsequent conversion by Alvarez-Arango gave Will Rice the lead. According to Herndon Miller, the team avoided mistakes in the second half.
“I think we made the plays in the second half that we didn’t make in the first,” Herndon-Miller, a Will Rice senior, said. “We had some tremendous players come up clutch. All credit goes to them.”
Wiess closed the gap to 7-6 soon after the Will Rice touchdown, but its offense was consistently plagued with penalties. False start flags pushed Wiess back on many occasions, including on a failed extra point conversion. Alvarez-Arango said the Will Rice fans, equipped with drums, bells and screaming voices, contributed to Wiess’ false start penalties.
According to Herndon-Miller, Wiess’ offensive troubles could also be attributed to Will Rice’s defensive rushers, particularly Brandon Chow. Chow ended the game with three sacks including one on the extra point conversion.
“I think they might have been scared of our rushers a little,” Herndon-Miller said. “[Chow] was giving them some trouble all game.”
Herndon-Miller and Economou said the team’s success stems from Will Rice’s flag football culture. They attributed their performance throughout the season to flag pulling drills and an understanding of the game.
“I think Will Rice has a tradition of focusing on the fundamental aspects of the game,” Economou, a Will Rice senior, said. “I think we have a system in place that is proven to work. Year after year, we pass down the skills to the next class.”
Alvarez-Arango said he also believed that Will Rice’s tradition in addition to its current coaching helped guide the team to a championship.
“All these wins are an attestment to our coaches,” Alvarez-Arango said. “They’re the reason we won and the reason we keep winning.”
According to Alvarez-Arango, the season allowed him to build lasting friendships with other freshmen and with upperclassmen coaches. He said the sport builds college spirit amongst freshmen early in their first year.
“I think freshman flag is just a great way for the freshmen to be able assert dominance over each other,” Alvarez-Arango said. “It’s just great to be able to represent your college when you first get here and become a part of all that college pride.”