The Center of Anna Maria Island field was the venue for the adult flag football quarterfinal playoff games Thursday night. In the crisp spring breeze, the community center’s new Youth Program Coordinator, Tim Holly, brought his young team, Hashmark Sports, to battle against Charles Buky and the Ugly Grouper squad.
As the clear underdogs, having a slow start to the season, Hashmark Sports struggled to stop Ugly Grouper’s Jon Moss and Nick Sato. Moss quickly ran a long route for the first down reception, giving Sato a chance to score.
Buky’s QB skills hit Sato for the first touchdown of the game. Failing to get the point after, Holly’s team took the field six points down.
Trying to find their groove, Matteo Ferris threw the ball with confidence to his main go-to receiver Anthony Mannino. Despite moving the football into Ugly Grouper territory, Hashmark Sports could not find the end zone.
Despite most of the team being just out of high school, Hashmark went out on the field with energy and determination. On defense, Holly showed why his team is a contender with a critical sack of Buky on the Ugly Grouper third down play.
After a first down play, Ferris threw a short pitch to Holly who ran the ball for critical yards after. Sato prevented the touchdown with a big flag pull.
Hashmark Sports’ Jaret Rojas took the snap and found Mannino in the end zone to tie the important playoff game.
Playing hard for the win, emotions began to flare up on the Hashmark team as a bad pass to Holly forced the team to get the first down on the next play.
Ugly Grouper’s key veteran player Christina “Dina” Calvary used her speed to chase the Hashmark Sports quarterback all around the backfield. Finally getting free, Holly caught the first down pass.
Quickly calling the timeout with 18 seconds left in the half. Mannino with the football gave a little juke and sidestep to get past the Ugly Grouper defender and into the end zone.
Moss tipped the extra point pass, leaving the score at the half 6-12.
The last 20 minutes of the game started with Ugly Grouper on offense. The floater pass by Buky was intercepted by Mannino, sparking the team’s energy once again.
Mike Brusso rushed the Hashmark Sports quarterback Rojas, nearly getting the sack. Just before Brusso could get there, Rojas pitched the football back to Holly behind the line of scrimmage, but he got caught by the Ugly Grouper defender for a loss of yardage.
With a diving Calvary flag pull, Mannino was stopped at the original line of scrimmage leading to a third down play in the pass only zone.
Ferris gained the first down, but the team just could not cross the line into the end zone on the next three snaps.
The short catch of Sato was stopped by a double flag pull by Holly. Mannino was on Moss for the immediate stop after the catch on second down. Moss was Buky’s target on the third-down pass, but he was stopped just short of the first down.
On the next possession, Hashmark Sports quickly turned over the football with an interception by Moss. Players on the two teams lost their heads as words were said and testosterone filled the air.
Both teams calmed down and resumed play with a big first down catch by Brusso. The big catch by Moss was followed by a key flag pull by Joey Carder preventing the score. Despite a beautiful diving catch by Moss, the Ugly Grouper squad could not put six points on the scoreboard.
Holly grabbed the ball three yards short of the first down with five minutes left in the game. Hashmark took the football all the way down the field but just could not break the scoring barrier to widen their lead.
One minute on the clock is plenty for a skilled and focused Buky as the quarterback. Moss caught the first catch for Ugly Grouper only to be followed by a Mannino stop.
With Brusso as the center and rushing obstacle, Holly sped around him to make the sack on Buky. Ugly Grouper quickly called a time out.
At third down and lots of field left to conquer, a bad snap to Buky was all it took to end the game, giving the Hashmark Sports team their seat in semifinal action as the #5 seed.
In the second quarterfinal game of the night Gulfview Windows, playing without Jordan Demers, lost in a very close battle against Beach House Real Estate. The game looked like it might go into overtime play, but the solid combination of Chad Woods and Chris Gillum just could not be stopped.
The regular season top finishers Progressive Cabinetry will be taking on Hashmark Sports at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. Lancaster Design, the second seed team, takes on the Gillum and the rest of the Beach House Real Estate crew at 6:30 p.m.
April 4 at 7:30 p.m. is the setting for the much-anticipated championship game at The Center.