The fledgling Abaco Flag Football League (AFFL) capped a successful inaugural season with a three day single-elimination playoff race for the Abaco Cup Championship games from June 5-7 and when the dust settled the Dragons and Panthers emerged victorious.
With only two women’s teams in the league the stage was set for a showdown between the Dynamic Divas and the Panthers in the early game on Sunday, June 7. With a strong defensive showing the two ladies teams went into the second half scoreless.
In the second half the Panthers were able to finally score on a touchdown by Danielle Mackey giving them the lead. The Divas drove down the field but were stopped short. The Panthers scored again with a catch by Rovena Smith putting them up 13-0. The Panthers defense staved off the Divas last attempts to score holding on to win the Ladies Championship Cup.
With seven men’s teams joining in the first season teams had to compete in the semi-finals, finals and then the winners met for the Championship Cup battle on Sunday.
In the semi-finals the Superstarz, out of Hope Town, took on the Tigers, out of Central Abaco, in a tight game. Despite gaining the early advantage the Tigers pushed back and defeated the Superstarz 20 to19 to advance to the finals.
The Pirates from Central Abaco were slated to meet the Green Turtle Cay Titans; however, the Titans were unable to field a team and forfeited the game.
The Sharks from Man-O-War took on a short-handed Chargers out of Fire Road. While the Chargers put up a good fight the Sharks advanced to the finals defeating the Chargers 20 to 2.
The top seed Dragons who finished the season with only one loss received a bye for the first round.
In the finals the Dragons, out of Central Abaco, faced off against the Tigers in a close match that went to overtime. After stopping the Tigers drive in over time the Dragons scored on a diving catch by Stephan Johnson, winning the game 26 to 20.
The Pirates came to play and ousted the second place Sharks from the playoffs with a convincing victory winning 26 to 12 to advance to the Championship and face the Dragons.
In the final match of the season, play for the Inaugural Abaco Cup in the men’s division, the Dragons drove down the field and scored the first points of the game on a quick out from quarterback Darren Rogers to snapper Tim Watson. Pirates retaliated with a quick strike on a deep pass from Devaughn Gibbs which hit Basil Hall in stride. The Dragons scored again on the next series on a pass to John “Junior” Polycarpe, and the Pirates responded with a touchdown to Stensil Moxey.
The teams entered the second half tied 13 to 13, and the Dragons defense held-off the Pirates while scoring a pair of touchdowns to John Polycarpe and Tim Watson taking a 27 to 13 lead. The Pirates did not surrender and eventually scored on another touchdown strike to Stensil Moxey; however, the Dragons stopped the Pirates late rally short and ran out the clock to emerge the Champions, winning 27 to 20.
The Abaco Cup Championship trophies were presented to the excited victors following the games, presented by President Timothy Roberts and Vice President Shuvalo Roberts.
Timothy Roberts thanked the players, coaches and officials, as well as all the sponsors and supporters who made the inaugural season of the AFFL such a huge success. “The best is yet to come,” he said, as he formally announced the invitation to play in the Grand Bahama Flag Football League’s tournament in August.
The AFFL has also just finished successfully registering with the Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) – a branch of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) – which is a part of the international body governing eleven man tackle and five man flag football around the world. It is hopeful that Abaco will be able to represent The Bahamas in the IFAF Flag Football World Cup expected to be held in Grand Bahama next year.
The dates of the second season of the AFFL will be announced at a later date and will be publicized through the league’s page on Facebook and in the newspaper.