[img id="77044" align="alignleft"] As you walk around campus this week, keep this in mind: You may well be in the presence of champions.
That’s because the IM flag-football playoffs finished up Sunday at Stagg Field, and now four teams—one from each division—have been crowned the best of the best for 2008.
In co-ed play, the Wallace House Cannons (6–2) won the undergraduate residence title by beating the Henderson Wombats (6–2) 7–6. The independent/graduate co-ed winner was Team 370203 (7–1), which beat MS2 (6–1) 33–24.
In the men’s section, the Red Army (7–0) of Alper House sailed home on the undergraduate residence championship by sinking Tufts House (5–2) 20–14. Half Men Half Amazing (7–0–1) claimed the independent/graduate men’s title by winning 26–13 over MS12 (5–3).
The championship afternoon kicked off with the matchup between Wallace and Henderson. As it had throughout the playoffs, Wallace relied on its speed on both sides of the ball, and at least on defense, the plan worked. The Cannons had a crucial defensive stop inside their own 10-yard line midway through the first half, and they kept Henderson off the board until well into the second.
But Wallace’s offense wasn’t doing any better than the Wombats’. The Cannons’ two best players, second-year Jordan Hopkins and Resident Head Brandon Cline, generally blow past defenders, but they were largely contained by Henderson.
Cline, who takes most of the snaps and often looks to run, was frustrated by the Wombat defense, and a long touchdown run by Hopkins was called back on a penalty. Instead, it was Henderson that scored on the ground: First-year quarterback Jan Stepanik ran for 42 yards to put the Wombats up 6–0 with eight minutes to play.
Once they fell behind, the Cannons seemed to find their rhythm again, and with just over a minute to play, Cline capped off a drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins. Cline successfully scrambled for the extra point, putting Wallace up 7–6. Stepanik drove Henderson back down the field, and with the clock dwindling, got his team in the red zone, but fittingly, Hopkins sacked him as time expired to secure the Cannons’ victory.
The day’s second game, between Red Army and Tufts House for the men’s undergraduate title, started out red all over. After completing a 38-yard pass to Christian Mitchell (A.B. ’08) to get into scoring range, second-year quarterback Chika Okafor housed it with a 15-yard run. Red Army tacked on two after that, and before the half was up, Okafor completed a 36-yarder to first-year Preston Atteberry, who made an off-balance catch in the end zone to put his team up 14–0.
Tufts scored twice in the second stanza to tighten the game, and they might have gone ahead had it not been for Red Army fourth-year Ronan McNulty, who had a crucial tackle on fourth-and-goal when Tufts was threatening early in the half. But Red Army didn’t ice the 20–14 win until Okafor passed to Atteberry, this time from 14 yards out, for his third touchdown of the game.
The third game, a contest pitting MS2 against Team 370207 for the independent/graduate coed crown, was a shoot-out between two potent offenses. Team 370207, which was mostly fourth-years and got its name from a player’s student ID number, relied on quarterback Jared Woodrey, an accurate passer who was even more effective running.
For MS2, a team of second-years from Pritzker, quarterback Aman Luther and wideout Neil Mehta ran the show. The pair connected for two touchdowns, and Mehta was strong on pass coverage, but Team 370207 had a comfortable lead for most of the game. Woodrey sealed it for his squad with a 10-yard keeper late in the second half, and Team 370207 rolled 33–24.
The independent/graduate men’s title game, between Half Men Half Amazing and MS12, was championship day’s grand finale and may have featured the two best flag football teams at the U of C this fall. MS12, drawn from first-year Pritzker students, had size all over the field, and quarterback Steve Winter was one of the top passers in the league.
Half Men, which is comprised of former Vincent House residents and members of the ultimate frisbee team, couldn’t match MS12’s size. What it lacked in size, Half Men more than made up for in athleticism, and their quarterback, fourth-year Kyle Cummings, had an arm to match Winter’s.
Cummings drew first blood in the game on a 15-yard touchdown completion, and after a 17-yard touchdown run by Winter tied the game, Cummings answered with a touchdown pass from deep to put his team up 13–7 at half.
“Kyle [Cummings] has been the quarterback since we started playing IM football our freshman year, and we all have a pretty good understanding of how he plays and vice versa,” fourth-year Alex Augustyn said.
On Half Men’s first scoring drive in the second half, Cummings got it done with his feet, repeatedly scrambling on a drive that ended with a five-yard sneak for a touchdown.
With eight minutes to go in the game, Winter passed for a 17-yard touchdown after which MS12 trailed 20–13, but that would be as close as they got. MS12’s attack faltered as Half Men forced Winter to make some mistakes, including throwing two interceptions to fourth-year Greg Conti in the middle of promising drives.
“As efficient as our offense was, the staple of this year’s team was the defense,” Augustyn said. “We didn’t allow more than two touchdowns in a game all season.”
In addition to his picks, Conti capped the game’s scoring by catching a seven-yard pass from Cummings. Half Men didn’t convert the extra point, and the team had a 26–13 margin when the final whistle blew.
“We’re looking forward to that seven versus seven exhibition flag football game against the football team,” said Half Men’s Ari Weitzman, who was injured for the championship, in reference to his team’s standing offer to play the varsity football team. As of press time, there was no official word on whether or not the offer had been accepted.