JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If last season was a just-happy-to-be-there moment, then the times have changed for the Fleming Island flag football team.
The Golden Eagles expect more this time, much more.
The next stop is the Class 2A state semifinals on Friday afternoon at Mandarin High School. The Golden Eagles (15-0) will face reigning state champ Western (16-2) at 2 p.m.
It’s a rematch of last year’s final four game, won handily by the Wildcats (34-13). If last season showed the Golden Eagles one thing, quarterback Mykala Maddox said it was that they had to play flawlessly to get over the hump.
“Taught us a big lesson,” she said. “Keep fighting. Keep pushing. Keep going for the ball.”
The Golden Eagles were in unfamiliar territory last year during their run to the final four. This year, they’ve been the area’s No. 1 team in the Super 6 all season long, a machine crushing opponents in their march to the state semifinals.
Fleming hadn’t allowed a point all season until the district tournament. Since then, the Golden Eagles have been tested, something that they seriously needed after a season of pulverizing teams.
They edged Sandalwood (20-19) in their closest game of the year, then clawed back from a 13-0 hole to beat Spruce Creek 19-13 in the Region 1-2A final. Maddox hit London Jenkins for all three touchdowns, the final one coming with under a minute to play. It was Jenkins’ 18th touchdown catch of the season. Maddox has tossed 37 touchdowns and rushed for 25 more.
“Tough win. They woke us up first quarter. We missed a lot of plays,” Maddox said. “We got to clean that up and we got to keep fighting for it and it will come to us.”
To keep pace with Western, the Golden Eagles can’t afford turnovers. Sounds simple enough, but the Wildcats pounced on those mistakes last year, including a pick near the end zone that denied an early touchdown opportunity for Fleming. A win on Friday would send them on to a Saturday championship game against Tampa Alonso or Seminole Ridge.
“We want that ring this year,” Maddox said. “We want to win it all.”