OXFORD – Kirsten Davis imagined a future watching her older brother Tae play football for Oxford. She was seen on a raised platform, on the track and behind the bench at Lamar Field, a megaphone in hand.
“I thought I would just be on the sidelines cheering,” Davis said.
That future has come for Davis, but the junior cheerleader is also spending time on the fence field, the latest in the family line of linebackers from Oxford. That’s because the AHSAA added women’s flag football starting this season and Oxford created the first team based in Calhoun County.
Oxford played a Black-Gold scrum on Tuesday night to honor six senior players and a manager from their inaugural squad.
The Yellow Jackets, whose bus was escorted by police after returning from their Monday game at Southeastern, enjoyed a team meal outside head coach Wes Brooks’ classroom before Tuesday’s scrum.
Oxford is 5-3. He will compete in his state qualifying tournament on Saturday at Huntsville High School. The girls hope to compete in their first-ever state tournament, which starts on November 1 and ends with the championship match at the Super 7 on December 1 at 3 p.m. at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
“A lot of people thought we weren’t going to take him seriously, but I think we impressed a lot of people,” said junior quarterback Reygan White. “I hope we get a state card (trophy).”
Brooks, better known as the longtime Oxford baseball coach, called the first season of women’s flag football “really, really, really fun for me.”
“Girls are like sponges,” he says. “They take everything I say and they play so hard. They can mess it up, but man, they play real hard.
It’s flag football. Blocking is more about staying on the path, and the Oxford blockers put their hands behind their backs not to use them. It would be a sanction.
There is, however, a lot of football in this brand of flag football. Brooks, who was previously a soccer shift assistant and still serves as the team’s operations coach, deploys 1-5-1 and 2-4-1 defensive rosters.
“Probably the biggest turning point of the season is teaching them terms like containment,” Brooks said. “If our defensive lineman loses control, then the linebackers have to be second content. If they lose their composure, then the cornerback has to come up and we deploy the cover. “
When the Yellow Jackets struggled to defend a contraband game early in the season, Brooks ran into another terminology gap.
“I said eye candy about three or four times,” he said. “I said to stop falling in love with that eye candy three or four times, and I asked a girl at halftime to say, ‘What the hell is the eye candy? “”
Yellow Jackets learn quickly. Free Safety Payton Brooks, an eighth-grade student and the coach’s niece, had three interceptions at Southeastern.
Oxford runs a triple option offense and crack block dependent reaction sweeps. White, also known for soccer and athletics, runs the show. On potential passes, the Yellow Jackets look to eighth-grade quarterback Gabrielle Lindsey with White in the backfield as a transfer threat.
Sophomore Ashlyn Burns, also a volleyball player and softball fielder, brings speed to the running back or wide catcher. She performs reactive sweeps and often comes back to the backfield.
“I just call it the two-minute offense because we’re going down simple routes,” Brooks said.
Brooks let his players name games, like “Trojan,” where Burns runs a corner route. They run from formations named after animals, such as “eagle” or “jag”.
“The first play (Monday) was ‘Jag Left, Bunch Strong, Quarterback Sweep Left, Crack’,” Brooks said.
The Yellow Jackets have progressed to the point where Brooks allows White to play options games.
White, a “big” football fan from Alabama, said it took a while to learn the triple option.
“I’m not going to lie; it was a little confusing to remember all the pieces, ”she said. “I had to go home and see them in my head over and over again. “
The team comes with several personal angles.
Brooks’ wife Summer was named Jacksonville State University’s intramural flag football female athlete of the year. She was playing wide catcher.
She and their two daughters wanted Brooks to be a flag football coach.
“It gives me a chance to train Sawyer, then Skylar will be in seventh grade next year,” he said. “Maybe we’ll have the opportunity to have them both on the same team, and dad will be the coach.”
Sawyer, also a soccer and cheerleader star, and Wes Brooks worked on backyard soccer during the summer. She said she learned a lot about baseball from her dad and translated her dad to his teammates.
“It’s like he’s telling me how much he knows about baseball and how much he loves baseball, and making him like something I do the same way he does baseball is pretty cool. “Sawyer said. “I also love to see that coaching side, and now to see it as a player, being coached by someone who cares so much about a team is pretty amazing.”
Burns had an idea of what to expect from Wes Brooks. Her mother, then Amy Brannon, took on the leadership role when he coached the Wellborn High girls’ basketball team in 2000.
“She said he was going to be tough on you,” Burns said. “It’s just because he loves you and just not to take him to heart, because he’s just trying to improve you.”
Davis has a whole new way of identifying with his brother, now a linebacker with the Houston Texans in the NFL. They play at the same position.
Tae’s NFL obligations prevented him from returning home to see Kirsten play, but he watched the video.
“He helps me a lot with the parts and tells me what to do,” she said. “As a linebacker he basically coached me on Facetime and said, ‘When that happens, do it. “He’s just giving me ideas on what to do.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.