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Flag football begins on JBLM with pre-season tournament

Hard knocks, JBLM style

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO 1st SFG’s Trevon Perry, left, slips past a pair of 5-5 ADA defenders during the JBLM intramural flag football pre-season tournament Tuesday at Cowan Stadium.

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Eight teams took advantage of the chance to shake off the rust after a long JBLM flag football intramural off-season.

The first eight teams to turn in their registration paperwork for the 2012 season scoped out this year's competition early in a pre-season tournament at Cowan Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday. The remaining 30 teams have to wait until the season officially starts later this month to be tested under game conditions.

"We want to compete so whenever we can, we want to play," 542nd Support Maintenance Company team captain David Villarreal said.

The 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment opened the single elimination tournament against 1st Special Forces Group. Players from each side took time to get acclimated with the rules and find their football legs again. The game was scoreless for nearly 40 minutes of regulation until 5-5 ADA scored a touchdown on the final play to win 6-0.

The 1st SFG team captain Victor Cox organizes weekly practices at 6:30 a.m. every Wednesday. Operational tempo made it tough to prepare; before the tournament, members hadn't practiced with the whole team present, and fielded enough players to scrimmage in two practices. The tournament served as a chance for the 1st SFG to evaluate themselves and the team's needs before the season starts.

"I think we have a chance at the post tournament as long as we get our offense together," Cox said. "We can go a long way. We have the athleticism."

This is Cox's first intramural flag football season on JBLM, but he wasted no time to prepare for it. It was Cox's idea to order black team jerseys with each player's last name on the back, rather than borrow the jerseys provided by the Cowan Stadium staff.

"It's so we come out and let people know we take it seriously," Cox said. "It's not just another day in the park for us."

Other teams also held several practices before the preseason tournament, including the 542nd Support Maintenance Company. Villarreal said they have a much different group from last year's team that finished around .500.

"We have a pretty stout team," he said. "We have a lot of young, athletic players."

Other teams participating in the tournament included 602nd Forward Support Company; Bravo Company, I Corps; A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Calvary Regiment; E Troop, 4-6 Attack Reconnaissance Squadron; and 1-229 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.

Despite the number of units deployed from JBLM, Cowan Stadium Manager Otis Sistrunk said there are still more than 30 teams signed up for football this year. To accommodate the number of teams, games will be played Mondays through Thursdays and three Saturdays in October. No games will be played on holidays or days of no scheduled activities (DONSAs).

"We'll play on Saturdays so some of the teams and families get a chance to meet each other," Sistrunk said.

The Army intramural league begins its regular season Monday. The eight teams played the pre-season event in T-shirts and shorts, but the attire will change as the season goes into November for the championship game. Last year's installation champion was Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 508th Military Police Battalion.

The Air Force's flag football season opens Tuesday. Twelve teams will play games Mondays through Thursdays starting at 5:30 p.m. at Rainier Field on McChord Field.

At the end of the season, the top Air Force team will face the top Army team in an inter-service JBLM contest for the crown won last year by HHC, 508th MP Bn.

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