Local flag football team returns to national championship

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Cartersville flag football has long been a competitive event at Dellinger Park, but Flex Nation has taken the sport to a new level.

Flex Nation will be traveling this weekend to Plant City, Florida, to compete with 400 teams in the United States Flag and Touch Football League (USFTL) National Championships for the second straight year.

The team was formed in 2012 in memory of Roman Gilliam, a teammate who was a standout football and basketball player for Cartersville High.

“We got together playing with Cartersville Recreation Department, and the boys train and practice together yearly,” said head coach Quintin Kent. “They have developed a close bond, so we are trying to keep them together as long as we can.”

Kent said he is determined the team plays better than last year.

“We feel honored to have the opportunity to go compete for a national championship, no matter if it’s flag or tackle football,” Kent said. “A national achievement means a lot, especially with the hard work both teams have put in this past year. I feel both teams are confident and ready to compete at the highest level.”

Last year Flex Nation was eliminated in the Elite 8 in overtime.

“They blocked our field goal to win, but that was our fifth game of the day and we fought to the end but came up short,” Kent said. “This year we are the No. 3 in the nation in USFTL national rankings, and we expect to come back with a championship.”

Flex Nation will bring a new addition to the championships, as their 6-and-under team, Flex Jr., also has qualified.

“Flex Jr. will be participating, and I believe they have a better chance of winning than we have,” Kent said. “They are a very talented and advanced group, and they have a great shot at bringing the national championship back to Cartersville.

“To have two teams competing and representing Cartersville feels amazing, and after seeing all the support the Canes received after winning the state title, we have a chance to contribute to this city’s achievements.”

The five members of Flex Jr. competing in the national championship are No. 1 Donavon Gooch, No. 3 Lance Tippet, No. 4 Jovani Bautista-Jackson, No. 5 Braylon Hall and No. 7 Kaiden 2K Kent.

“I’m so proud of the kids,” Kent said. “If you only knew how hard they have worked to get where they are now and the time they have to put in to play a game that they love. It just makes me proud to be able to lead them on their journey.

“And, with Flex Nation, it’s our time and we know what we have to do.”