The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 17 - February 8, 2017


Team Beach to Bay scores the win

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

monica simpson | SUN

Team Beach to Bay's Gregory Jordan lead his
team to victory Saturday racing down the field
past all of the Team Lancaster Design defenders.


In recent history, youth flag football has only been part of the Island community center's landscape for about a decade, but that is enough time to see the changing of the guard start to take place on the field. As the youth grow older and leave for college, some return to start their adult lives and continue to contribute to the youth sports program as volunteers.

The Beach to Bay 8- to 10-year-old flag football team is lucky enough to have two former participants return to share their youthful energy, time and knowledge of the game as their volunteer coaches. Jake Parsons and Rainia Lardas, both former students of Anna Maria Elementary School and graduates of Manatee High School, spend week day nights at football practice and Saturdays at games hoping to make a difference on and off the football field.

This full circle approach to growing and nurturing the youth of The Center to become responsible and contributing young adults was part of the mission of the youth teen program that was at its apex during Parsons' and Lardas' time at the community center. The goal of character building and personal development is the focus of the newly developing teen program, which will likely result in individuals that return to the Island to give of their time and energy.

Parsons, who works with the kids as the head coach of the Beach to Bay team, collaborated with several of the dads of the team to instill age appropriate discipline, along with a growing knowledge of the game. Lardas, the assistant coach, has the critical role of making sure that all of the players have equal playing time to ensure development as a flag football player, which ultimately increases their confidence in the game and in life.

The character development was reinforced during Saturday's game against Team Lancaster Design. After just nine minutes of play, Team Beach to Bay was ahead 0-12 with the initial touchdown by Brennan Gunter and Gregory Jordan with a mad dash down the length of the field. The early two-score lead quickly disappeared with two pick sixes in a row by Team Lancaster Design.

Without its standout starting quarterback Matt Hennesey, Parsons and Lardas started Jordan as QB. Jordan's passes were intercepted by Payton Harlan and Andrew Hyman, each finding the end zone with little effort. With Hyman as the Lancaster Design quarterback, two points were added to the scoreboard with the catch by Harlan, pulling their team ahead 14-12.

Hanging their heads low could have been an option for Team Beach to Bay, but with encouragement in the huddle by Parsons the team came back out on offense ready to fight back. Sailing the long pass on third down, Jordan hit Will Wright for the go ahead touchdown. The score stayed at 14-18 as the Beach to Bay extra point attempt was stopped.

Half-time pep talks and coaching could be heard on both benches as Coach Gary Harlan and Parsons both prepared for a tough second half of play.

The girls on the field for both teams made critical plays that advanced their teams down the field. Layla Yavalar and Ava Harlan for Lancaster Design made strong offensive and defensive difference in the game. Lilly Kawahata was the standout female defensive player of this match up, pulling flags to stop plays that could have changed the outcome of the game.

On the second offensive go of the half, Jordan once again took the ball the length of the field for a touchdown. With the extra point by Gunter, the score moved to 14-25 for Beach to Bay. But, Harlan's team kept fighting for yardage.

A. Harlan ran for short yardage before having her flag pulled by Kawahata. Kane Richardson took the ball down the field for a 10-yard gain. Looking to get first down yardage, Hyman's pass went through the hands of P. Harlan, giving the ball back to Team Beach to Bay.

After a strong defensive stop, Lancaster Design made way down the gridiron again with a long run by Hyman who was stopped at the one-yard line. Hyman was finally stopped by Wright pursuing his target with a prevent attitude.

Moving her team closer to the win, Yavalar was hit in the end zone for a Lancaster Design touchdown. The one point conversion by P. Harlan made it a four-point game with plenty of time on the clock.

The game of the week proved to be just that. Both teams played strong to the very last second. P. Harlan put his team ahead with another interception and run into the end zone. With the extra point by Kieran Cloutier, Lancaster Design pulled ahead 28-25.

Parsons' team kept marching forward with yardage by Jordan and the touchdown catch by Wright to move the score to 28-31. Wright followed up with the extra point for Team Beach to Bay.

With one minute left on the play clock, Team Lancaster Design made one last ditch effort to walk away with the victory. Stepping up his defensive game Jax Kagin had two extremely critical flag pulls that prevented the opponent from gaining the first down. The strong defensive pressure by Team Beach to Bay forced the interception by Gunter to end the nail bitter.

Sun Scoreboard

Tuesday, Jan. 31

Adult Co-Ed Volleyball

Intechgrate Systems 2
Beach to Bay 1
(game 1 25-18, game 2 23-25, game 3 15-9)

Air & Energy 2
Anna Maria CrossFit 0
(game 1 25-11, game 2 25-21)

Saturday, Feb. 4

Youth Flag Football: 8- to 10-Year-Old League

Beach to Bay 32
Lancaster Design 28

Salty Printing 7
Bark Real Estate 21

Truly Nolen 36
Cloud Pest Control 20

Youth Flag Football: 11- to 13-Year-Old League

Planet Stone 13
Tyler's Ice Cream 7

Miller Electric 34
Progressive Cabinetry 13

Youth Flag Football: 14- to 17-Year-Old League

Air & Energy 31
Duncan Real Estate 30

Sign-A-Rama 26
Intechgrate Systems 8

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper