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Nelson Saints claim Kootenay Bowl at Flag Football Championships

By Contributor
June 19th, 2024

Another flag football season in the Kootenays concluded Sunday with a record 18 teams competing for the Kootenay Bowl at Cranbrook’s Moir Park.

The spring season marked another step forward for the Kootenay Football League with an increase in player numbers, the addition of Golden and Sparwood to the list of teams, and a junior division in the West Kootenays for the first time.

The Kootenay Football League, in partnership with NFL FLAG, was launched by the Rocky Mountain Rams Football Association (Cranbrook) in the fall of 2022 with a four-team league. NFL Flag is a fast paced 5-on-5 format played on smaller fields, with plenty of action for all players.

With the league’s expansion this spring, teams in 10 communities competed at regional events throughout May and June culminating with the spring championship, the Kootenay Bowl.

In the senior division, teams battled some fall-like conditions as they competed in a four-game round robin through the wind and rain.

The sun came out to shine on the playoff rounds as the 12 teams participated in a single-elimination bracket.

The opening round of the playoffs matched up seeds 5 through 12 with the top four receiving a bye to the quarter-finals.

The Kimberley Jaguars (Green) and Fernie Ravens both eked out one-point wins over the Cranbrook Chargers (White) and Castlegar Bills, while the Trail Patriots and Sparwood Texans got past the Invermere Bengals and Creston Dolphins, respectively.

In the quarter-finals the top four seeds, Nelson Saints (Gold), Cranbrook Chargers (Blue), Kimberley Jaguars (Black), and Nelson Saints (Black) all advanced past the previous round winners.

The competition ramped up in the semifinals where, the No. 2 seeds Cranbrook Blue and Nelson Black got out to early leads over the top seeded Nelson Gold and Kimberley Black and held on to knock off the No. 1 seeds from the East and West setting up a rematch of the fall final between the two communities.

The final proved to be entertaining with a number of highlight worthy plays throughout. Regulation wasn’t enough to separate the two squads leading to a sudden death overtime shootout.

After Nelson scored on its first possession, the Saints knocked down a Cranbrook pass attempt to earn a second straight Kootenay Bowl title.

Nelson (Gold) took the win in the third-place game, while Fernie won the B Final, and Cranbrook (White) were the C Final winners.

The junior competition saw teams compete from both the East and West divisions for the first time. The three teams from each division played a trio of round robin games against their cross-division opponents to determine playoff seeding.

Teams went back into their divisional pools for the semi finals with the top seed in the West Creston, taking a close 18-12 win over Nelson in one semifinal, while second seeded Kimberley upended Cranbrook 18-6 to return to the final for a second straight season.

An entertaining final came down to the wire with Creston trailing by five approaching the Kimberley end zone.

A couple of key defensive plays secured the victory for Kimberley earning them back-to-back Kootenay Bowl Jr. titles.

Another successful Kootenay Football League season would not have been possible without the support of all of the parents, volunteers, coaches and officials. The KFL will be back again this fall with registration opening in June.

The next event on the football calendar in the Kootenays is the 2024 SR Rams Spring I.D. Camp on Tuesday, June 25.

As the senior tackle program prepares for its 2024 fall season, all potentially interested players (Gr. 9-12 this fall) are advised to attend the camp ahead of the new season starting in August.

More information on the KFL and Rams Football can be found at the Rams Football link.

Nelson Saints won the Kootenay Bowl at the Flag Football Championships recently in Cranbrook. Players include, back row, L-R, Ben Stamer, Kass Carson, Boden Duffy, Ben Shier, Thor Patterson, Tristan Cutts, Shalem Ashley, Tjaz Zumpano Intihar, Tristan Therrien and Reed Parry. Front, Tye zukowski,Noah rawles, Andy Perreault Nolan Smith, Elliot Hoy, Jett Westerlund Emmanuel Neen Wandala, Lukas Felten and Marcel Vongkeo. Coaches include, Randy Neen, Courtney shier, Jason Ashley, Craig pilon, Ryan Reid and Gino Perreault. Missing, Cole Harrridge and Beckett Wilkey. — Submitted photo

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