Flag football debuted to rave reviews at St. Rose this spring

June 21, 2024 at 7:00 a.m.
The St. Rose, Belmar, girls flag football team celebrates after their first big team win. Courtesy photo
The St. Rose, Belmar, girls flag football team celebrates after their first big team win. Courtesy photo

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

One of the fastest growing sports in the Shore Conference arrived at St. Rose of Belmar this past spring, as the Purple Roses fielded their first girls flag football team and got positive feedback from the participants.

St. Rose won its opener against Central Regional, 36-8, before finishing 1-4. But wins and losses were the last thing coaches Kevin Conachan and Jennifer Tallarico were concerned with.

“Our program brought so much excitement, valued instruction and teamwork,” Tallarico said. “The competitiveness our girls displayed in every game was inspiring. I am convinced we will only see more and more young ladies join the teams across all the schools in the Shore Conference.”

St. Rose does not have a varsity boys football team, so former Athletic Director Lous Delpra opted for the next best thing.

“He wanted to give SRHS an opportunity to try this new sport out,” Tallarico said. “He finally brought ‘football’ to St. Rose High School.” 

The Roses roster consisted of 15 girls. Not all of them could show up due to commitments to other spring varsity programs, but Tallarico said enough girls showed up on a consistent basis that St. Rose did not have to forfeit.

Unlike regular football, which features 11 players on offense and defense, flag football requires seven girls on each unit. The games consist of two 25-minute running halves with a five-minute halftime.

An offense lines up with a center and two receivers on the line a minimum three yards out from the center. There is also a quarterback and whatever other positions teams opt for. A quarterback has six seconds to throw or hand off, and if time expires the play is treated as an incomplete pass and whistled dead.

Once the ball is snapped, there is no blocking, grabbing, contact or screen passes, and no handoffs or laterals beyond the line of scrimmage. A fumbled snap must be recovered and put into play within six seconds.

There is no flag guarding to prevent a defender from grabbing the flag (comparable to making a tackle), and shirts must be tucked in. Touchdowns are worth six points and teams can go for a one-point conversion (by passing only) from the 5-yard-line or a 2-point conversion from the 10.

Defensively, one rusher can line up anywhere seven yards off the line and may rush at the snap, or not rush at all.  The defense must be three yards off receivers and there is no bumping or hand checking. 

On an interception, the play is blown dead immediately, the defense receives two points, and the offense starts on the 40. In overtime, teams start at the 10, have four plays to score and must go for 2 points after a touchdown. If the game is tied after three series, it ends as a tie.

In giving an overall assessment of how her players felt about the up-and-coming sport, Tallarico gave two thumbs up.

“Every one of our girls showed up to play,” she said. “Most games we only had seven players but those core seven proved we could compete with the best teams. They knew the rules, played their hearts out and had fun doing it. They were pumped and ready to play every game. They showed sportsmanship and played with faith in each other’s abilities.”


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One of the fastest growing sports in the Shore Conference arrived at St. Rose of Belmar this past spring, as the Purple Roses fielded their first girls flag football team and got positive feedback from the participants.

St. Rose won its opener against Central Regional, 36-8, before finishing 1-4. But wins and losses were the last thing coaches Kevin Conachan and Jennifer Tallarico were concerned with.

“Our program brought so much excitement, valued instruction and teamwork,” Tallarico said. “The competitiveness our girls displayed in every game was inspiring. I am convinced we will only see more and more young ladies join the teams across all the schools in the Shore Conference.”

St. Rose does not have a varsity boys football team, so former Athletic Director Lous Delpra opted for the next best thing.

“He wanted to give SRHS an opportunity to try this new sport out,” Tallarico said. “He finally brought ‘football’ to St. Rose High School.” 

The Roses roster consisted of 15 girls. Not all of them could show up due to commitments to other spring varsity programs, but Tallarico said enough girls showed up on a consistent basis that St. Rose did not have to forfeit.

Unlike regular football, which features 11 players on offense and defense, flag football requires seven girls on each unit. The games consist of two 25-minute running halves with a five-minute halftime.

An offense lines up with a center and two receivers on the line a minimum three yards out from the center. There is also a quarterback and whatever other positions teams opt for. A quarterback has six seconds to throw or hand off, and if time expires the play is treated as an incomplete pass and whistled dead.

Once the ball is snapped, there is no blocking, grabbing, contact or screen passes, and no handoffs or laterals beyond the line of scrimmage. A fumbled snap must be recovered and put into play within six seconds.

There is no flag guarding to prevent a defender from grabbing the flag (comparable to making a tackle), and shirts must be tucked in. Touchdowns are worth six points and teams can go for a one-point conversion (by passing only) from the 5-yard-line or a 2-point conversion from the 10.

Defensively, one rusher can line up anywhere seven yards off the line and may rush at the snap, or not rush at all.  The defense must be three yards off receivers and there is no bumping or hand checking. 

On an interception, the play is blown dead immediately, the defense receives two points, and the offense starts on the 40. In overtime, teams start at the 10, have four plays to score and must go for 2 points after a touchdown. If the game is tied after three series, it ends as a tie.

In giving an overall assessment of how her players felt about the up-and-coming sport, Tallarico gave two thumbs up.

“Every one of our girls showed up to play,” she said. “Most games we only had seven players but those core seven proved we could compete with the best teams. They knew the rules, played their hearts out and had fun doing it. They were pumped and ready to play every game. They showed sportsmanship and played with faith in each other’s abilities.”

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