RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
The Randolph Braveheart flag football team surprised many people and maybe themselves, by winning a divisional title at the Spring Classic tournament March 1-2 in Houston.
Having only 10 of their 15 players suited up, the Braveheart played seven games in two days to win the first-place divisional trophy in the 8-on-8 tournament, which had teams from Houston, Dallas, Austin and Louisiana competing.
The Braveheart competed in the "C" division with four other teams.
Winsome Culley, Braveheart coach, said it is still hard to believe that his team was able to win the divisional championship.
"To win was surreal because of the type of teams we played against, especially with our new offense," he said. "We are playing with a different offense than we had last fall, an offense that accommodates our talent and speed instead of playing to the other team's defense."
The Braveheart, made up of players from Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases and Brooks City-Base, started playing in the fall in the San Antonio Flag Football Association. They finished 7-4 in their first full season, barely missing the playoffs.
Culley said the Braveheart had to deal with banged-up bodies, injuries and fatigue during the spring classic, but were able to tough it out until they won the title.
"We have a lot of heart," Culley said. "Our name matches our game and I'm proud of our team. We had players who came out of the blue to make a lot of big plays for us."
Braveheart quarterback Ivan Thomas of Lackland was named the tournament's most valuable player. On the first day of the tournament, Thomas injured his thumb on his non-throwing hand, but despite the injury was able to lead the Braveheart offense to the championship.
Team Randolph's Scott McLaughlin paced the Braveheart defense and was named the tournament's defensive MVP.
"Scott was huge in the games we played," Culley said. "He made a lot of key defensive plays and came up with key interceptions."
Eric Doggett, who was the Braveheart's quarterback in the fall, played wide receiver in the spring classic.
"This win gets the ball rolling for us because we went out of town, turned on the intensity and won on foreign turf," Doggett said. "It will definitely give us momentum for the rest of the regular season."
The Braveheart are off to a 2-1 start for the spring season. They are competing in the six team SAFFA "B" division.
Doggett said he and his teammates are willing to do what it takes on the field for the Braveheart to win.
"We know our roles and compete to the best of our ability," he said. "From week to week, our roles change. Everyone is willing to take that challenge and fulfill their role."
Culley said the Braveheart gained a lot of knowledge about flag football during the fall season, which should help them become better this spring.
"We have a better understanding of flag football," Culley said. "We are more organized, especially on offense."