Two Youngstown flag football teams will compete for titles in New Orleans
By Matthew Peaslee
In 1997, Eliott Giles played on the Division I-AA national championship team at Youngstown State.
In 2013, he’s going to the Super Bowl ... of flag football.
Giles and his 9-11 boys and 12-14 girls flag football team get a chance to play with the country’s best youth players in New Orleans the week before Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable experience,” Giles said.
Last year, his teams participated in the USA Football national championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This is the first year the championship games will be played at the Super Bowl site.
“The kids knew what was at stake,” Giles said. “They’re very motivated and talented athletes but a big fuel for them was a chance to go down there, take part in the festivities and meet current and former NFL players.
“It’s not just about the game, they’re going to create lifelong memories. It’s pretty awesome.”
His boys team was an entire lineup of newcomers — Kameron Kreps, Parker Sherry, Luke Fulton, Michael O’Horo, Connor Crogan, Jaize Zeigler and Dominic Posey.
Some of the boys also play in a tackle league.
After missing out on qualifying from the Cincinnati region for the second year in a row, the Giles-led team was able to qualify out of the New York region and represent the Jets.
They went undefeated during their regular season schedule.
The girls returned two starters from last year’s team — Rilee Leider and Emily Moretti. Dakota Naples, Jahnice Berry, Sarah Bury, Brittany Mook and Znaya Brown round out the roster.
Eight teams qualified for the championship from Chicago, Florida, New York, Virginia, Las Vegas, California, Texas and Ohio.
“It’s a high-level of competition,” Giles said. “They’re going to be seeing kids that they wouldn’t have met otherwise and it’s good to branch out and see new faces and get a feel for new styles of play from across the country.”
Giles, a Miami native who played a year at Idaho State before transferring to YSU, holds the yards per catch and yards in a game record for the Penguins. He was inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame last fall and a scholarship was recently formed in his honor.
He is a teacher at Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school, and is one of five individuals on the national committee of NFL FLAG.
“Playing college football was a great privilege,” Giles said. “But I get more satisfaction out of watching these kids improve with their fundamentals. Seeing how they grow with running, catching and hand-eye coordination is one thing, but seeing them grow off the field, becoming friends and continuing their friendship is pretty cool, too.”
Giles says that the parents truly make the Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association league a success.
Youth participants range in age from 5-14. Kids come from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
“The mix of talent brings more life to our league as a whole,” Giles said. “That’s what we’re really about.”
Registration for the spring season is under way. Contact Giles at 330-754-1070