Birmingham captures the Inaugural CIF LA Open Division Flag Football title in a 14-6 defensive battle over San Pedro
Despite their road status, the Birmingham Patriots took the field feeling comfortable in their home stadium for the CIF LA City Open Division Flag Football Championship Game against the top-seeded San Pedro Pirates on Saturday November 18, 2023. Ranked first in the Los Angeles Metro Area and tenth in the state of California, the Patriots were still ranked as a seventh seed heading into the playoffs, despite an unbeaten record on the season.
As both teams battled to a halftime stalemate, the Patriots showed off their resolve by going ahead on a late touchdown with 3:00 left in the game. Sparked by a Patriots defense who had shut out nine opponents this season, stopped an explosive Pirates offense on their final drive to secure the first flag football city championship to add to the school’s football tradition.
The contest began with both teams coming out strong on the defensive side of the football, each keeping their opponents out of the end zone on their first two drives.The tide of the game shifted towards the end of the first half, when a penalty by the Patriots set up the Pirates offense near midfield in Birmingham territory. Senior Noelani Raigans proceeded to make a 38-yard touchdown reception off of a tipped ball to give San Pedro a 6-0 lead with 1:39 left in the first half.
Without much time left on the clock, Birmingham’s offense quickly responded with consecutive receptions from senior Mya Oliveros to set up one final play for 4th & Goal. Senior Jessica Rose, the daughter of head coach Jim Rose, threw a touchdown pass off of a double pass to sophomore Bella Gonzalez as time expired to bring the game to a 6-6 halftime tie.
The Patriots retrieved possession of the football to start the second half, but turned the ball over on downs when the Pirates defense made a key defensive stop. San Pedro had an opportunity to put points on the board after a defensive holding penalty by Birmingham set up their offense in goal line territory. The Patriots defense, which took pride all season in keeping teams out of the end zone, helped re-energize the team with a goal line stand on fourth down with under ten minutes left in the game.
Senior Rachel Lowry made a clutch catch for a large chunk of yardage to put the Birmingham offense in the red zone. Oliveros capped off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception to give Birmingham their first lead of the game with 3:00 left. After completing the two-point conversion, the Patriots defense needed to make one last stop to secure a city championship.
San Pedro moved the ball down the field offensively on their last drive and powered the ball into the end zone when speedster senior Sharia Coleman caught a touchdown pass to get closer to overtime. However, the touchdown was called back by an illegal forward pass penalty. The Patriots defense proceeded to keep the Pirates out of the end zone one last time to give the ball back to their offense with 27 seconds left to secure the 14-6 win. With a championship season under their belt for their first season and Winter tryouts to look forward to, Coach Rose sees a bright future for the Birmingham flag football program, “It’s already included a lot more interest out of everybody. We’re gonna have a lot more to pick from.”