Freshman flag preview: Will Rice looks to continue dominance
For Rice’s 11 residential colleges, a new freshman flag football season means hope is renewed for a championship run.
Freshman flag, open to all new students, is offered by the intramural sports program at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. The colleges are split into two divisions based on whether they play on Saturday or Sunday. The Saturday division features Duncan College, Jones College, Lovett College, Martel College, McMurtry College and Wiess College. Meanwhile, the Sunday division includes Baker College, Brown College, Hanszen College, Sid Richardson College and Will Rice College.
Each team is coached by upperclassmen, many of whom are former freshman flag athletes themselves. According to Max Boekelmann, a Jones sophomore who coaches the freshman flag team, the transition from player to coach is exciting and challenging at the same time.
“As a coach, you give up the power to directly affect the game on the field but also gain control in how the team operates,” Boekelmann said. “It is also a chance to fix the things that didn’t go as well as they could have last year when I played. I just want to make sure our guys are having fun.”
The regular season, which kicked off on Sept. 8, is five games long for Saturday-division teams and four games long for Sunday-division teams. The top three teams from each division make the playoffs.
Last season, Will Rice won the championship for their sixth title in the last seven seasons; Duncan’s 2015 squad was the lone team to break the streak. According to Will Rice freshman Jacob Koelsch, Will Rice’s chances for a repeat are high.
“I think we’re definitely going to be the favorites,” Koelsch said. “We’ve got great coaches. We’ve got a bunch of great athletes on the field. We’re going to live up to expectations.”
Even though some colleges have a rich tradition of freshman flag success, according to coach Ellery Pickens, a Wiess junior, a team’s past history is irrelevant in comparison to its current crop of talent.
“Freshman flag is so dependent on the crop of players you get each year at your college,” Pickens said. “A good freshman flag team is made with athleticism. That’s pretty much the only thing that matters.”
According to Boekelmann, however, sound fundamentals help a team win more than talent does.
“The three most important things in flag are communicating so that the team is all on the same page, flag pulls and avoiding penalties,” Boekelmann said. “Lacking in any one of these can kill a team no matter how skilled or athletic their players are.”
Because the regular season starts relatively early in the school year, team chemistry and familiarity can be a issue. According to coach Elijah Lipkin, a Will Rice sophomore, even though players on the team know each other well, it still takes some time to get used to each other.
“O-Week for so many reasons is amazing, and one of them is that all the freshmen know each other pretty well,” Lipkin said. “So, you come into the season with these guys knowing each other, and then as you practice and play they get a real feel for how it is on the field specifically. Personally, I think we got better as the year went on last year, and I’m sure the same will happen again this year.”
All games are played on the recreation fields and the schedule for the games can be found on the IM Leagues website.
THRESHER POWER RANKINGS
1. Will Rice
10. Sid Richardson
More from The Rice Thresher
In each of the past five years, Rice swimming has lost the Conference USA first place title to Florida International University. This week, they hope to break this streak at the conference championships, hosted in Atlanta.
Some players might not be old enough to remember it, but when the Rice baseball team faces Missouri State University for a three-game series this weekend, it will serve as a rematch of the first game in the 2003 College World Series. For Rice, that game — an Owls win — sparked a run that culminated in the first and only College World Series title in program history. For Missouri State, that game represented the closest that the Bears have ever been to a College World Series title.
Last weekend, the Rice women’s track and field team won the Conference USA Indoor Championships for the first time in ten years, and only the fourth time in the history of the program.