First Strike Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division came from behind after halftime to beat Performance of 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., in Fort Campbell Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s company-level flag football championship game Oct. 24 at Fryar Stadium.
Captain Jordan Haas, First Strike, who was named team most valuable player by Coach Spc. Aaron Williams, was excited about the win.
“The team really brought the intensity,” Haas said. “We could get stops, and then our offense just started clicking. The best defense in the league came to play tonight.”
“Captain Haas did wonderfully coming off of an injury [earlier in the season] to lead the way,” Williams said.
Performance took a quick lead, with Sgt. Jordan Wallace scoring a touchdown in the first drive. Wallace’s teammate, Spc. Dreylon Young, then scored a two-point conversion to put eight points on the scoreboard.
First Strike retaliated when Spc. Dre Billingsley responded with a touchdown of his own. They were stopped on the conversion, bringing the score to 8-6, Performance.
First Strike suffered a setback when their starting quarterback, Spc. Jaysen Jimenez, sustained an injury to his leg. Sgt. Ricky Nichols stepped in to finish the game.
The game stalled with back and forth interceptions until Wallace scored Performance’s second touchdown, giving them a 14-6 lead.
With only moments left in the first half, Haas scored First Strike’s second touchdown, tightening Performance’s lead to only 14-12.
After the teams regrouped during halftime, First Strike returned to the field with fresh confidence.
“We came out a little slow, but in the second half, we picked it up,” Haas said. “They got us quick off the start, but at the half, we settled and leveled our heads.”
Specialist Kenyatta Hancock scored a touchdown for First Strike which went unanswered by Performance’s ailing defense.
Sergeant James Middleton, Performance’s player-coach, said he wanted his defense to play the close game.
“We knew their quarterback didn’t have an arm to throw it deep,” Middleton said. “He either wanted to run, run to the left side or dump it to the flats. We tried to tell our corners and our linebackers to play up close so when he tried to dump it off short, he [was] lobbing the ball so it [would] be an easy pick for a pick six. But my secondary wasn’t getting the memo. They kept playing it deep. Lack of communication was a big problem this game.”
With nine minutes left in the game, First Strike gained control of the ball and kept it on the ground to let game time expire.
“Don’t pass,” Williams called to his team from the sidelines. “Keep it in bounds.”
The drive lasted for eight minutes of the second half until Billingsley scored First Strike’s fourth and final touchdown. Sgt. C’Tauryzs Green scored an extra point bringing the score to 25-14. With one minute left in the game Performance threw a long pass from the 50-yard-line to the 10-yard-line in an attempt to catch up. However, Green intercepted the ball, prompting cheers from the First Strike sideline.
“Green with an interception to seal the deal,” Williams said with a smile.
First Strike took a knee as the last seconds of the game ticked away.
Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Ademczyk, commander of First Strike, was on the sidelines cheering on his Soldiers.
“I’m really excited about the fact that they work hard all day long, support one another, and still like each other well enough to come out here and compete with each other,” Ademczyk said. “I absolutely love their competitive spirit. I’m really proud of them. The cool thing is it was young Soldiers putting it together, you got representation from the entire battalion out here working together.”
Williams was proud of his team.
“I feel ecstatic that we can bring so much vibrant energy from the 2nd Brigade Strike system,” Williams said. “Everyone on the team brings something extra to the team and it is just so copasetic. It makes me really happy to see it all come together and [for] us [to] win this championship.”
Middleton was disappointed at the loss, but was proud of his team’s performance during the rest of the season.
“This was our first loss of the season,” Middleton said. “Our record is 9-1 now. This was probably the worst game we played all year.”
Middleton is hopeful for the upcoming spring tournament.
“We were runner up last year and this year again,” Middleton said. “We only have one player returning from last year. If we’re not in the field, we’ll definitely try to come back again.”