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Suwannee High Bulldogs

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Suwannee High School is adding another sport to its athletic department.

Starting in the spring, SHS will add flag football to its roster of sports, fielding junior varsity and varsity girls’ teams.

“It’s the fastest growing girls sport in the state,” said Ricky Hufty, who will coach the team.

Hufty has coached football and flag football for eight years and played on “highly competitive (flag football) teams all through college.”

SHS held an informational meeting about the new program earlier this fall and Hufty said 90 girls attended. He said he knows others that are interested but could not attend the meeting and efforts will continue to spark interest in the fledgling program.

“I am working on branding our program in every way possible on social media, promotional flyer and an awesome schedule,” he said.

The preseason will begin in late February.

“It’s a spring sport why and it’s a really popular sport in Florida,” Suwannee athletic director Mike Braun said, calling Hufty, “one of the premier flag football coaches in the state.”

This first season, SHS will play as an independent.

“We’ll also participate in a big tournament they have in Tallahassee every year, we will have a full slate of games,” Braun said.

“We’ll play anybody who wants, and starting next year we’ll be classified in the district, and have an opportunity to win the district and be in the playoffs.”

Currently, the Florida High School Athletic Association has two division for flag football, which is played with seven players on the field at a time for each team.

Hufty, who said he expects to have about 35 players for the two teams, said from there it’s basically football with a few difference. Notably, flags attached to a flag belt — one on each hip and one on the back.

The field is 80 yards long and 40 yards wide with four 20-yard sections for teams to try and obtain a first down. The offense gets four plays to make a first down, there are no fumbles and extra points are one, two or three points.

“Offensively we will know more once we get a feel for our personnel. On both sides of the ball you build your scheme to your personnel,” he said. “But we will make high percentage throws, get the ball out of the QB’s hand quickly and take calculated shots downfield.

“(On defense) we are going to be fast and aggressive to the ball, be tremendous flag pullers, be cohesive and work together.”

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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