In early February, three flag football teams from Spring Hill won the national championship for their age bracket for the 2022 season: the Spring Hill Elite 8u, the Spring Hill AllStarz 10u, and the Spring Hill Elite 12u. While this was certainly an impressive feat, it was even more so considering what the AllStarz went through late in the season. The night before the national tournament kicked off in Las Vegas, the 10u squad coached by Lameek Floyd was thrown a major curveball. The AllStarz running back/wide receiver Israel “Izzy” Rogers-Wolsky was hospitalized with an asthma attack, and suddenly it became about so much more than football. What was Rogers-Wolsky’s condition? How were the other children handling this information? It was a difficult situation for everyone involved. According to William Faulkner, the father of AllStarz defensive rusher Andrew Faulkner, the team responded admirably to the news.
“The kids rallied around winning for Izzy and sent him a video message [saying] they would take it all home for him,” Faulkner said. “Izzy was released and able to make it to watch the final game of the first day, and the team’s energy took their play to a new level as they had their best game of the day and solidified the second seed for the playoffs the next day.”
It was a phenomenal effort by the team to dig deep and manage a gutsy win for Rogers-Wolsky, especially considering that flag football teams feature a 5-on-5 setup. Losing a player becomes a potentially greater challenge than in the traditional 11-on-11 format due to fewer players. From there, the team advanced all the way to the championship round against the Houma Falcons – the number one team in the tournament. Despite coming into the matchup having outscored their opponents by a 121-33 margin throughout the tournament, the Falcons had no answers for the AllStarz as they lost to the Spring Hill-based team 25-0 in the finals. This was thanks to a pair of interceptions by safety Royce Leal, four touchdown passes by quarterback DJ Franklin, and a trio of receiving touchdowns by wide receiver Avery Floyd. It was clear to Faulkner how important this was to the children as he recounted their reactions when the clock struck 00:00 in the championship game.
“The kids were all overcome with excitement, and after the game ended, they ran off the field and into a team dogpile before collecting their championship rings,” Faulkner said. “Those kids all wanted to win this tournament more than any other tournament they’ve played in.”
Alongside their trio of championships, these teams helped the Spring Hill league win the NFL Flag League of the year. In commemoration of their accomplishments, the players and coaches from the three squads will be listed below:
The Spring Hill Elite 8u:
Coaches: Rob Walden and TJ Butler
The Spring Hill AllStarz 10u:
Head Coach: Lameek Floyd
Israel “Izzy” Rogers-Wolsky
Julian “Cheeto” Guzik
The Spring Hill Elite 12u:
Coaches: Mike O’connell and Andrew Sitar
According to the organization’s website, the Spring Hill NFL Flag Football League offers co-ed NFL flag football from ages 3-17, as well as an all-girls platform for elementary, middle, and high school girls. The schedule features a six-week regular season before the aforementioned single-elimination playoff tournament. The teams also practice two to three times per week and operate out of Veteran’s Park in Spring Hill.
“To see Spring Hill represented by three teams, and all three win championships, is an incredible accomplishment,” Faulkner said. “It’s a testament to the program that the Spring Hill NFL League owner, Andrew Sitar, has put together… Andrew Sitar has built a program that turned Spring Hill into NFL Flag titletown.”