UPDATE Nov. 3: The junior high flag football team one-day PAL playoffs ended with a second loss this season to overall champion, St. Anthony’s, Oct. 28. After shutting out Carden, 30-0, and defeating St. Joachim of Madera, 25-6. However, the FCS JH team ran into St. Anthony’s who finished the season undefeated (15-0), losing 24-6.
“I was really proud of our team,” coach Noah Heinz said. “We won the 6th-grade PAL championship with a bunch of these players last year; I thought we did a very good job this season, only losing to an 8th–grade St. Anthony team. Our team is made up of mostly 7th graders and two 8th-grade students.”
The FCS flag football team went 8-2-1 this season, losing both times to St. Anthony’s.
“We had many first-time players who are really soccer players who never played football,” Heinz said. “We hope our 8th-grade players will move up and play next year on the varsity football team. We fielded 30 players on our junior high team and 20 on the elementary team this year. I am so proud of how out football has grown and I look forward to coaching these guys again next year.”
PAL playoffs begin, Oct. 28
With a team poised for a deep playoff run, sixth-grade teacher Noah Heinz believes in this year’s flag football team. With over 30 people on his JH team and similar numbers for elementary, Heinz predicts great things for the campus flag football future, including the upcoming Parochial Athletic League (PAL) playoffs.
Over three previous years of coaching, Heinz won one PAL championship and two second place tournament finishes, including the 2016 season. He has coached campus teams over three seasons and is starting his fourth season as the JH coach. Heinz is looking forward to competing in the PAL Varsity Flag Football championships at St. Anthony’s, Oct. 28.
From starting with a small team of around 20 from both junior high and elementary teams, Heinz has grown both of his teams to over 30 athletes on his JH team and 20 on his elementary team.
“My first year as coach, I started with so few players we had to combine both the junior high and elementary teams to actually create a team,” Heinz said. “I did not coach the junior high team my second season. We lost our first few games in the tournament, ending the day for us a little earlier than we hoped for, but we earned our place with the other teams that year preparing us for the next year. Then the next year we came out striking hard and did better than the previous year.”
First-year flag football player, Avery Walters, ’23, became interested after watching the success of previous teams. Already on the starting lineup of the JH team, Walters holds high hopes for the team’s efforts regarding the season championship.
“I am new to flag football at Fresno Christian,” Walters said. “I did not play any sports last year and I am planning on playing as many sports as I can this year including soccer. I saw how the team did last year so that motivated me to play this year and try to help the team press on and win the championship this year. I think we can win this year and I would like to win.”
As the season has progressed, coach Heinz says his team has improved both on and off the field.
“We have been focusing on making sure the whole team is confident in their assignments,” Heinz said. “We need everyone to be able to step in and do their jobs with excellence. There has been an increased focus on special teams as well. These young men have been working very hard!”
Cooper Saelzler, ‘23, is playing a junior high sport for the first time. Saelzler loves participating in athletics and is thrilled to be on the JH flag football team. Saelzler played flag football in elementary school and is familiar with football.
“I love football because it is a fun sport to compete in and is very inclusive,” Saelzler said. “You can sub out and in on every play, getting everybody playing time, while other sports are much more difficult to get people rotated in and out. This is a great asset for a large team of thirty people. Now we can include a lot of people.”
The junior high team is seeded No. 2 for the upcoming playoff tournament, Oct. 28, at St. Anthony’s. However, before that, the team travels to Our Lady of Perpetual Help for an Oct. 24 game at 4:30 p.m.
Trent Wilson, ‘22, is looking forward to the upcoming PAL championship. Having played last year, Wilson is hoping for a championship before he leaves middle school.
“I played last year and am looking forward to the rest of the season and the championship,” Wilson said. “We got second place last year and tried really hard, so that motivated me to play this year and go for first place. I think that with as large of a team as we have this year we can definitely do well this year.”
While coach Heinz said there are definitely a few very good teams, the St. Anthony’s 8th-grade team is going to be the toughest challenge by far. And he made a bold prediction.
“We are expecting to make it to the championship game and win!” Heinz said. “That has been the goal all season long.”
The games on Saturday are at 9:30 a.m and 11:30 a.m. If FC wins both games, they will be the championship game at 1:30 p.m. If the Eagles don’t win the first two games, they will play for third place at 12:30 pm.
With the team excited for the upcoming tournament, players on the junior high football team prepares for their greatest challenge yet.
The Eagles currently have a record of 6-1. Support the team by coming out and supporting them at their tournament at St. Anthony’s near Browning and Maroa avenues. The team opens the playoffs against Carden School of Fresno, Oct. 28, at 9:20 a.m.
This author can be reached via email: Andrew Rieker.
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