Saturday morning, June 18, 2011 started as an overcast and cool day. This weather would be perfect for the upcoming football game, pitting the Santa Ana Police Department Hogs against the Long Beach Police Department Sirens. As early morning turned into mid-morning, the sun came out and the temperature started rising. A few posts were placed on Facebook by some of the players and fans and there was the usual exchange between Head Coach Tony Lopez and myself, going over last minute game plans and ideas. This is almost a tradition with us before every game we have coached in the last four years.
We were all meeting at Darlene Wigmore's house at 1030, so we could caravan as a team to the field. I got to her house at 1030 and some of the players were already there. They were in the backyard, standing in a loose circle. There was some talk between the players but it all was in subdued tones. I looked around and I could tell that each and everyone of them was a time bomb ready to go off. They were itching to go. I spoke with Jacqui Parkhill and she said "I am so nervous I have butterflies." I told her, "that's good, that means you're ready." And in perfect Jacqui fashion, she says, "I need to shoot a beer to take the edge off." You gotta love her.
We had about nine vehicles in this caravan, so we were quite a site when we pulled up to the player's parking at Eddie West Field. The Santa Ana cadets tried their best to corral this caravan but we basically said, "We're coming in and we don't need your help." Liz Griffith jumped out of her vehicle and started doing her best Dodger Stadium parking lot attendant impression. She was lining vehicles up in spots and doing a great job of directing traffic. She just needed a straw hat and one of those flashlights with the orange cone attached.
After we took care of our parking problem, we headed to the field. We got ourselves situated in our locker room, the coaches met with Santa Ana's coaches and we brought the team out onto the field for warm-ups. As we got to our sideline, Tony Lopez gave his one rule for warm-ups, "Don't look at them, they look at us." I got them lined up for warm-ups and I could tell they were all nervous. I took a quick look at the Santa Ana team warming up and they were warming up in a library. I decided, it's a beautiful quiet Saturday morning, we need to take out Mr. Whistle and make some noise. The whistle blew for the first exercise and it was on. The team started talking, getting pumped and basically causing a commotion. We were letting Santa Ana know that Long Beach was in the house.
Our four captains. Ana Gill, Darlene Wigmore, Chanel Kirk and Liz Griffith met the Santa Ana captains at mid-field. Santa Ana won the toss and they deferred. The ball was ours. After four months of practices and scrimmages, we are now onto the real thing.
We watched Ana Gill in practice and we knew that she had what it takes to lead an offense. She sees the whole field and knows where everyone is supposed to be. She runs the offense like an orchestra conductor. With her ability, her leadership skills and her overall athleticsm, she was the perfect candidate for quarterback. On any other team Rachel Frausto would be starting as quarterback. She has a rocket for an arm and gets the ball downfield like it's nobodies business. Rachel did a bang up job lining up as a running back, protecting Ana from the Santa Ana rush.
Santa Ana struck first but our defense was showing signs that they were going to have a big day. When Santa Ana scored, our defense denied the extra point. Santa Ana went up 6-0. Our offense now started to click. We adjusted to what they were showing on defense and we spread the ball out over our exceptionally talented receivers.
At the end of the half we were up 14-12.
The second half was a defensive struggle. Santa Ana changed their rushing scheme, which made us adjust and lose a receiver. We went back and forth but Long Beach's defense was putting on a show for the crowd.
Lori Peck made a beautiful diving interception, which stalled a Santa Ana drive. Darlene Wigmore came up with big sacks at the right time.
Long Beach played their hearts out and they walked off the field with their heads held high. It was a great game and the sad part was that someone had to lose, too bad it was us. All the players want a rematch and all the players just want to keep playing. This team is on the verge of being the team that sets the standard for female flag football.
I will speak for the whole coaching staff on this. We are all extremely proud of the Long Beach Sirens and it was an honor to have coached such a great group of athletes. There will be more football games to be played and it will be the Long Beach Sirens that everyone will have in their sites. Good work.