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    Playing for Bragging Rights



    Courtesy Story

    DVIDS Hub       

    Story by: Staff Sgt. Susan German

    CAMP BLACK JACK, Baghdad, Iraq -- The stakes were high and pride was on the line as warriors faced off on Camp Black Jack's dusty athletic field.

    Sixteen teams participated in the Military Flag Football League playoffs Oct. 4-5. Eighteen teams started the season on Labor Day (Sept. 6); ten teams played in the morning league and eight teams in the afternoon league. The majority of teams were comprised of military personnel, males and females. There were 307 players in all.

    They came to play; laying down their weapons, but not their rivalries or their friendships. Strategies were planned out in advance. Their mission was to earn bragging rights and a trophy. Playoffs were conducted for both leagues, with the winners and runner-ups facing each other for the championship and third place games. In the morning league, 15th Finance Battalion's Silver Eagles beat the 13th Signal Battalion's Big Crooks 37-0 to advance to the finals against the previously undefeated 15th Forward Support Battalion's Gamblers. The Gamblers beat Steel City, comprised of members of the 28th Signal Battalion, from Pennsylvania, and 711th Signal from Alabama, 21-14 in overtime.

    The Silver Eagles had been beaten by the Gamblers during the regular season for their only loss, but defeated the Gamblers in their final encounter 28-7.

    The 91st Engineer Battalion's Sabers beat the 95th Military Police Battalion's Superstars 34-6, to play Battery C, 2-15th Field Artillery Regiment's Coldsteel, who they beat 44-21, for the afternoon league championship.

    Coldsteel beat the Commandos from HHC 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division 37-7.

    In the end, it was the Silver Eagles, morning league champions, facing the afternoon league champions, the Sabers. The teams have been playing each other for the past three years; at Fort Hood and in off-post tournaments back in Texas. The Silver Eagles won this particular meeting 28-14. The Gamblers beat Coldsteel 21-16 for third place honors. Four of the best football teams at Fort Hood were deployed to Iraq, according to 1st Sgt. Kenneth Patrick, Beast Company, 91st Engineer Battalion, co-captain, cornerback and wide receiver for the Sabers. His team's next goal will be to challenge the team that wins Fort Hood's post championship in December, after they return from Iraq. Zeb Alexander, a morale, welfare and recreation technician with the 1st Cavalry Division, was involved with the development of the league. Planning started in late July, as team captains met and sign-ups were conducted. Games were played on the weekends and accommodated Soldier's missions. MWR personnel in black and white striped shirts served as referees and line judges.

    "It's been fun working with military guys that can get competitive and actually care about winning and losing," Alexander said.

    Each team wore distinctive uniforms. Some wore their military physical fitness uniforms, while others wore specially designed team jerseys or shorts. Before each game there were the usual, and some unusual, football rituals, including pre-game chanting, pounding on metallic posters and music. Trash talking was not permitted, although that rule was difficult to enforce at times. Football and trash talking tend to go hand in hand. By the time the final game was played, there were fans on the sidelines, as well as players and coaches from other teams cheering on their previous opponents and friends. Silver Eagles coach Sgt. 1st Class Frederick Smith Jr., a detachment sergeant, 15th Finance Battalion, said his role as coach involved being more of a director than coach. "Because of the level of talent on this team, I'm just giving them some inspiration, some words of wisdom at times when they get kinda full of it and over their heads," Smith said.

    Following their "Super Bowl" victory, the Silver Eagles were presented the first, and last, Camp Victory trophy, because the camp's name has changed to Liberty. They each signed a game ball that will be placed on display. Coach Smith met with the same fate as other "Super Bowl" coaches when several of his players lifted a cooler and dumped its contents on his back.

    Although the game brought an end to the football season in Baghdad, recreation specialists are busy planning upcoming events.

    "Next we're doing soccer, and the prize for winning the championship is a humungous trophy and $1,000," Alexander said. "A company out of Kuwait is sponsoring the trophy and prize money."

    Alexander said soccer teams will consist of ten players and they'll play on the football field, which is to be renamed "Soldier Field," like the field in Chicago.



    Date Taken: 10.13.2004
    Date Posted: 10.13.2004 09:28
    Story ID: 499
    Location: CAMP BLACK JACK, IQ

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