photo contributed to the observer See TRAILBLAZERS, page B2

Smiths Station Advance to First Ever Flag Football Championship

By Wil Crews

The Smiths Station girls’ flag football team secured its spot in the inaugural AHSAA Flag Football State Championship game with a 14-7 road victory over Carroll High School last Tuesday night.

“[It] was a really hard-fought battle,” said head coach Megan Larsen. “When that clock hit double zero, it just kind of reassured all the hard work that we had put in this year. I knew these girls deserved it; I know they worked their butts off. For them in that moment — to see their reactions, how excited they were — it’s a moment I won’t ever forget for as long as I live.”

The Panthers capped off their win with a touchdown pass and extra point from junior quarterback Brynn Repicky. After the game, Larsen spoke on how Repicky was banged up early in the game, and how gutsy her play was on the night.

“I can’t say enough about my quarterback,” Larsen said. “She got banged up quick, and she honestly probably should have been out for the game with just how banged up she was. But she stayed in there and fought hard.”

Another key cog in the Panthers’ victory was the dominant, four-interception performance from the secondary. Larsen said the defense’s performance has helped to set her team apart all season, and Tuesday night was no different.

“Our secondary … we knew the way they played and prepared our girls well and put them in the right spots,” she said. “But you can only prepare so much and then they have to show out and do their deal and they did last night.”

If you asked Larsen in the summer if she expected this team to make it this far, she would at least tell you that they have the buy-in capable of accomplishing such a feat.

“There has been a lot of hurdles along the way,” Larsen said. “But at the same time, when my girls started in the summer doing workouts and stuff, I told them that we weren’t doing this for “funsies” and if they wanted to be a part of this that we were going to go all the way. So I think they bought in this summer and that’s kind of what helped get us to this point.”

Now, the Panthers turn their attention to Dec. 1, where a matchup against the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies — who defeated Oxford high school 25-0 in the semis — awaits. The game is being played in Birmingham’s Protective Stadium and winner gets to claim themselves the first-ever AHSAA flag football champion.

Larsen and company are confident they can get the job done.

“Other than the film that we have watched from them, [I don’t know] ton,” Larsen said of the Panthers’ opponent. “I tell you this though, I’d pick my panthers over anybody else. I like my team; I like what we got going. I like our heart and our grit and our class. Whatever any team brings us, we are going to rise to the occasion.”

No matter the result, Larsen is proud of what her team has accomplished this season and looks forward to competing for many more championships in the years to come, she said.

“This is a stepping stone; this is a building process,” Larsen said. “This is year one. I’m in the business of building a program — not just something is successful this year, but something that is successful for the next 10 years. To cap this off with a victory it would be something that I would never forget. I’m young in my teaching and coaching career and so all of these first are just incredibly special and fun to be a part of for sure.”


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