football prepares for more success as a second-year league
In late 2010, a team
of 10 Marblehead 5- and 6-year-olds ventured into Salem to
participate in their first season in the North Shore Flag
Football League (NSFFL). Despite playing in an age group that
combined 5- and 6-year-olds with 7- and 8-year-olds, they had a
great time and gained lots of playing experience, and they were
back the following spring with two teams in the Salem League.
Later that spring, Marblehead placed a team in the 6-8 year-old
age group in the 2011 Flag Football Festival, a tournament of
over 90 teams and four age groups that was held at Harvard
The Marblehead Black Tide finished 16th out of 16 teams after
losing two preliminary contests and their first game of the
In late 2011, Marblehead started its own league as a part of the
NSFFL with 140 children, two age groups of 5-6 year-olds and 7-8
Playing at the Bud Orne Playground each Sunday, a total of 14
teams battled each other under the rules of NFL Flag Football,
which are significantly different than the traditional rules of
football (see sidebar on the NFL Flag Football rules).
After the regular season and playoffs were over, two teams from
the 7-8 year-old division and one from the 5-6 year-old division
were declared the Super Bowl winners, and then qualified for the
New England Championship Series, an end-of-season tournament
that pits the top teams from over 13 different NFL flag football
leagues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode
Island against each other to determine the Champion of
All Marblehead teams played well in the tournament, with the 7-8
year-old Eagles placing third out of 14 teams before losing in
the semifinals, ironically enough versus an efficient Salem
Broncos team consisting of many of their former foes from the
Salem League. The game was tied at halftime, but Salem then
scored 20 unanswered points to send the Eagles home for the day.
The highlight of the tournament was supplied by the 5-6 year-old
Marblehead Lions, who were crowned the Champion of Champions
after placing first out of seven teams.
Their play demonstrated that Marbleheadís Flag Football program
was on the map, and would be a force to be reckoned with in
tournaments to come.
The spring 2012 season in Marblehead welcomed the addition of a
9-11 year-old age group, and a new playing location at the Tower
School. Now, poised with 27 teams in the three age groups, they
were ready to do battle, and when it was all said and done after
the playoffs and the Super Bowl games Marblehead again sent a
team from the 5-6 year-old age group, two teams from the 7-8
year-old group and one from the 9-11 year-old group to the
Spring 2012 Championship Series Tournament.
Once again, the 5-6 year-olds showed their dominance when the
Marblehead Raiders, led by the lone 5-year-old on the original
team that played in Salem, went undefeated on the day that
culminated with a win over the Peabody Steelers, 18-8 in the
championship game, resulting in another Champion of Champions
trophy coming home to Marblehead.
Then, the 7-8B year-old bracket winner Steelers defeated the
Lynn Lions before losing to the Beverly Giants.
The 7-8A year-old Bracket Champion Marblehead Seahawks (11-0)
made the championship game, but then they lost their first game
of the season to the 10-0 Beverly Packers. This left them in
second place in the tournament.
In addition, Marblehead entered a 9-11 year-old team into the
championship series for the first time in its history.
2012 Football Festival
For the first time last spring, Marblehead Flag Football held
tryouts for teams to play in the 2012 Flag Football Festival at
Rentschler Field on the campus of the University of Connecticut.
Two teams of 6-8 year-olds (the Black Tide and the Magicians)
and one 9-11 year-old squad (the Black Tide) were formed and
began practice for the tournament that was played on June 30 and
Day 1 of the tournament was held at Woburn High School, where
each team played three round robin games to determine the
seedings for the next dayís single elimination tournament at
In the 6-8 year-old Division, the Black Tide and the Magicians
entered a field of 16, and when the day ended the Black Tide
stood at 3-0 after defeating the Peabody Raiders, 20-6; Masco,
24-6; and the Beverly Patriots, 14-8.
The Magicians lost to the Lynn Bulldogs, 30-8, and the Beverly
Panthers, 39-6, before defeating the Woburn Tanners, 12-6 to end
the day at 1-2.
In the 9-11 year-old Division, probably the most difficult
division in the tournament with 22 teams, the Black Tide
defeated the Salem Witches, 15-12 before losing to the Beverly
Panthers, 32-6, and the DAC Red, 39-14.
On Day 2 of the tournament, the 6-8 year-old Black Tide took
care of the Lynn Rams, 14-6 before losing in the semifinals to
the NHFFL Red Storm, the only other undefeated team in the
The Red Storm, the eventual champions, gave up their only
touchdown of the tournament to the boys from Marblehead. It was
a close, hard-fought game that was all tied up at six until the
Black Tide gave up a touchdown with no time left on the clock on
the last play of the game. This performance catapulted the Black
Tide to a third place finish in the East Coast Premier Flag
The 6-8 year-old Magicians lost in the first round to the
Danvers Falcons, 26-6, but the 9-11 year-old Black Tide defeated
the Beverly Patriots, 20-12 before losing to New Yorkís DAC
Considering how Marblehead fared the previous year at the Flag
Football Festival, it was clear that they have progressed
What a difference a year makes Consider the following
statistics: Last fall, 140 youngsters participated in flag
football; the numbers soared to 270 in the spring.
This fall promises to be even better, with more experienced
players and coaches and a tradition of tournament excellence now
Two seasons: Two 5-6 year-old regional championships, and two
7-8 year-old top three finishes and a Flag Football Festival
semifinal appearance, not bad considering Marblehead had no flag
league the previous year.
Additionally, Marbleheadís Connor Cronin, Drew Annese, Kurt
Plakans and Sam Annese were chosen to the first-ever All-NSFFL
6-8 year-old All-Star team, and played in a tournament held in
Syracuse, N.Y. last July.
This was, in no uncertain terms, a credit to the commitment of
the parents and volunteers who coach, film, photograph and make
the league what it has become today.
Interested in playing Marblehead Flag Football?
Marblehead Flag Football is one of the leagues in the North
Shore Flag Football League (
). Itís 5-on-5 flag football where safety is the name of the
The program provides children between the ages of 5-8 years old
(9-11 year-old teams are only offered in the spring) a fun,
exciting opportunity to engage in non-contact, continuous action
while learning lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication
The age groups offered in Marblehead are as follows and based on
the childís age as of Sept 1, 2012: 5-6 years-old and 7-8
Game days consist of a one-hour practice/warm-up and a 40-minute
game. Each player registering will receive a reversible NFL flag
football jersey of the NFL team they are placed on and flags for
the game. Players are encouraged to indicate which friends they
would like to play with during registration to make the
experience more enriching.
experience is necessary, itís just about having fun.
The 2012 fees are $90 for the season, and to register go to
and click on the link Register Now on the left side of the page,
and make sure to select the Marblehead League.