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Flag: Football of a different sort

The+Imagine+School+at+North+Port+Sharks+move+the+ball+down+field.
The Imagine School at North Port Sharks move the ball down field.

The Imagine School at North Port Sharks move the ball down field.

The Imagine School at North Port Sharks move the ball down field.

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A defender rushes the opposing quarterback. But instead of tackling him, he reaches out and pulls the plastic flag dangling from the quarterback’s belt. There is no tackling in flag football.

But that’s only the most obvious difference between the two sports. While nobody gets shoved to the ground in flag, players face plenty of challenges of their own.

For starters, while quarterbacks don’t get tackled, they also don’t get defended. No one blocks in the backfield in flag, so quarterbacks have to think fast.

There are no field goals in flag, and no extra-point kicks. Flag teams have to run or pass the ball across the goal line to earn extra points after touchdowns. They get two extra points if they start on the 20-yard line; one point if they start on the 10.

To earn a first down in tackle, a team has to move the ball 10 yards. In flag, it’s twice that.

And that can be frustrating, said Jerry Stetter, Imagine North Port’s assistant flag football coach.

“It doesn’t make sense because we have to run farther than the pros,” Stetter said.

“It’s unfair,” said Zach Leslie, an Imagine sixth-grader. “Because we have to run farther than the NFL, when we are only in middle school.”

 

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