The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind defeated St. Augustine in the Yellow Jackets’ inaugural flag football game on Monday night. Taylor Meeks, Brandi Burchfield and Robyn Major will always have a place in the history of St. Augustine High School athletics. The three seniors served as the captains of the Yellow Jackets’ inaugural flag football game on Monday night.
In all, 27 girls suited up for the contest against the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
The Dragons held St. Augustine scoreless for the final 17:20 of the game to win 28-25.
“Everyone is so supportive. It’s already such a great team,” said St. Augustine freshman wide receiver Bridget Connor. “We are going to grow stronger and became a better team. We are already a family.”
St. Augustine’s offense, which featured Meeks at center, Erin Smith and Laila Bray at tackles, Kyra Stauble, Makayla Daniels and Connor at wide receiver and Major at quarterback turned the ball over on downs on its first possession. The Yellow Jackets responded by scoring touchdowns on four of its next five possessions.
Connor scored St. Augustine’s first touchdown with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter. She ran a fade to the back corner of the end zone, and Maddi Taylor found her to tie the game at 7-all. Major played most of the snaps at quarterback. But Taylor and Kyra Stauble also lined up to take snaps from center Taylor Meeks. Connor caught St. Augustine’s first two touchdowns.
“It was totally a team effort,” Connor said. “We have worked so hard for this moment. We have worked and we’re only going to get better throughout the season.”
St. Augustine’s defense, which featured Burchfield and Ashanti Lyons as the rush ends, Makinley Dowler as a linebacker, Sophie Pearson at safety as well as Lily Kiker, Emma Mowrey and Bella Doan as defensive backs, likely will not play an opponent with more backfield speed than the Dragons.
Olivia and Oceana Brown were easily the two fastest players who strode onto Joey Wiles-Walt Slater Field.
The sisters split snaps at quarterback. FSDB ran variations of the triple option, counters and speed options to mystify St. Augustine at times. Oceana Brown’s first snap of the game was an incomplete pass. On her second, she raced around the right, darted through a pair of Yellow Jackets and ran toward daylight.
Oceana has qualified for the FHSAA track and field meet multiple times and used her speed time and again to create chunk plays. Oceana Brown ran for three touchdowns, all of which were more than 40 yards. Olivia’s long touchdown run tied the game at 13-all with 6:51 remaining in the second quarter.
“It feels very special,” FSDB flag football coah Russ Koenig said. “I didn’t know anything about St. Augustine. I didn’t know how good they would be or what to expect. They played really hard. I’m proud of my team for the win.”
The setting sun over the western side of Foots Brumley Stadium provided the backdrop for a sport that was introduced in St. Johns County by St. Joseph nearly a decade ago.
FSDB fielded its first flag football team in 2017 but have been relegated to playing teams outside of the county because St. Joseph has since disbanded its flag football program.
Monday’s game featured another piece of symmetry with the version of football that is played in the fall. St. Augustine also lost its first varsity football game to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
More than 105 years later, the score of the initial intra-county football game is up for discussion. That was not the case Monday.
“I didn’t play last year. I thought we wouldn’t win,” said FSDB freshman receiver Elsie Essex. “It’s our first game (of the season). We won and I feel excited.”
FSDB’s win did not come easily. St. Augustine began to solve the riddle that can be the Dragons’ offense in the second half. Brown’s third touchdown came with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter. She used her speed to get to the corner. Emma Hancock’s two-point conversion to Essex gave the visitors a 28-19 advantage.
Burchfield led the defensive charge. The senior repeatedly knifed into the backfield to alter the timing of FSDB’s offense. St. Augustine forced the visitors to punt on their last two possessions of the game. The latter gave the Yellow Jackets a chance to win the game with 1:00 remaining.
Major found Kyra Stauble on first down. Her second down pass was deflected. Taylor’s third down run with about 30 seconds remaining gave St. Augustine a fresh series of downs near midfield. Three plays later, Taylor was flushed out of bounds as time expired. St. Augustine was defeated but not dejected.
“It’s a really special experience to have another avenue for girls athletes to have a chance to showcase their abilities,” St. Augustine flag football coach Andrew Crews said. ”...I have asked them from the first day to set a standard for what we will be. All the girls have accepted that.”
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org