ATLANTA – The Kansas Wesleyan Flag Football team had nothing to hang their heads about after losing both its seeding games on Thursday at Silverbacks Park.
Instead the Coyotes made the best of it.
Playing in the Silver Bracket of the NAIA Flag Football Invitational on Friday, the Coyotes routed Milligan (Tenn.) 76-6 and Saint Mary 43-0 to claim the Silver Bracket Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons.
The NAIA Flag Invitational was hosted by the NFL along with Reigning Champs Experiences.
Head Coach Mike Famiglietti was thrilled with the way his team finished its season 6-8 overall.
“After a season full of ups and downs and the combined effort of our whole family building something out of nothing, ending our season with two huge statement wins makes me incredibly excited for the future of Coyote Flag Football,” Famiglietti said. “We will be one of two teams ending our season on a win and look to carry that over to next year.”
Famiglietti also said that playing inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium was an unforgettable experience.
“This experience of playing in an NFL stadium and the combined team effort of our whole team was awesome to see and experience,” he said. “I really hope it is something they can remember for the rest of their lives.”
After losing to Keiser (Fla.), one of the top teams in the NAIA, and a familiar opponent Midland in the seeding games, the Coyotes rebound nicely in bracket play, something Famiglietti credits the team for, for not getting down in the moment.
“I can’t thank our assistant coaches and team enough for their dedication and determination after yesterday’s results didn’t go our way,” he said. The way we bounced back makes me know that Coyote Flag football will keep competing and be a team our school will be proud of.
Against Milligan, the Coyotes rocketed out to a 32-0 lead after a quarter, forcing several Milligan turnovers and turning them into quick scores. The big play was a 48-yard pass from Sabrina Saldate (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) to Brianna Hernandez-Silva (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) with 1:27 left in the quarter. Just 34 seconds later, the Coyotes were in the end zone again.
Ghariana Green (FR/Dunedin, Fla.) caught a 41-yard touchdown pass to make it 51-0 at the half in favor of the Coyotes.
Wesleyan increased the lead to 70-0 after three quarters before allowing Milligan to score.
KWU was able to get one more score on the board before the game was called at the 2-minute warning.
Wesleyan faced Saint Mary in the final, after not playing the Spires at all during the regular season.
The Coyotes turned in an amazing defensive performance, blanking the Spires on the way to the 43-0 win.
First half touchdown passes from Saldate to Hernandez-Silva of 14 yards and to Ja’Daa Wilson (FR/Crawfordville, Fla.) for 10 yards gave KWU a 19-0 lead at the half.
Saldate found Hernandez-Silva for another score early in the third, and then Hernandez-Silva ran it in from a yard out putting the Coyotes up 31-0 with 4:27 in the third.
Saldate found Wilson again for a 34-yard score with 7:20 left, and then capped the scoring with 3:27 to go finding a very wide open Carlee Becker (SR/Henderson, Nev.) in the end zone from 17 yards out to make it 43-0.
“The leaders of our team will be a great core to build around with our incoming class to keep us competing at the national level,” Famiglietti said. “Coach (Valerie) Ochoa and Coach (Terek) Smith were invaluable this year in getting everything going. I can’t wait to have them continue to help our family in the fall and to continue our program’s growth.”