Girls Flag Football Aims For Another Championship Win


Yazmin Tinoco

Coach Schulman prepares a play while the girls huddle.

Eithar Takesh, Staff Writer

The University High School Girls’ Flag Football Team played their first game on Thursday, Sept. 14, against Woodbridge.

The two teams have an interesting rivalry not only due to school contention but also because of their past interactions. Last season, the team wiped out the Warriors in the championship game with a score of 20-7 becoming the first champions of the inaugural Matt Leinart Girls High School Flag Football League. 

Due to a series of unfortunate turnovers in the red zone, the team was unable to carry on their long-lasting winning streak over to the new season and were bested by the Warriors with a final score of 12-0.

However, the season remains bright for the young team. Junior Riley Hertstein, who helped found the team alongside senior Kate Stenta and junior Leah Schulman, remained positive after Thursday’s events.

“I’m honestly really excited for this year,” Hertstein said. “I think for the first game you always have to get the kinks out but as long as we keep working on our plays and memorizing them and lining up quicker on offense and staying focused on pulling flags on defense I think we can go pretty far.”

The loss of crucial seniors has forced the team to fill in many missing gaps and change the system of both their offense and defense.

“The loss of our quarterback from last year made a big dent on our team, but we filled that gap with Senior Katrina Soto and we are going to do great things with her in the future,” Stenta said. “Although all the seniors will be missed, we have work to do and we can win the championship without them too.”  

With the introduction of a handful of new teams, the Matt Leinart League has changed and expanded to lengths it has never seen before. For example, there are now two brackets and the first three weeks are now non-league. However, the league is not the only one to change. The team has increased its roster and has recruited enough players to form a JV team for the expanding program. 

“Adding teams to the league puts a target on our back since we won the championship last year,” senior Millie Maher said. “It means we have to work harder and come out stronger than we did last year.”  

Girls’ flag football has yet to be recognized as an official sport for California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) despite the introduction of so many new teams and its increasing popularity.  

“It’s been motivating for the girls to have to build this on their own,” Head Coach Justin Schulman said.  “We would love the support of the school, we are struggling a little bit but hopefully over time they will recognize it.” 

The team plays its next game on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Great Park. In regards to the ongoing Woodbridge rivalry, the Trojans will face the Warriors again in the playoffs, only next time, the ensuing outcome will be different.