A flag football team from Nebraska is heading to Florida with the same goal as the Husker football team.
“We both want to win,'' said Jamaal Hale, a player and coach for the UNL squad.
The intramural team will compete in the ACIS flag football tournament in Pensacola, Fla., from Saturday to Monday and in the Nirsa flag football event from Jan. 4 to 6.
They're hoping to watch the Huskers in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday in Orlando against Georgia if their schedule permits.
“We want to cheer the Huskers on and give the Huskers some support,'' said Hale, a senior majoring in criminal justice.
The team went 24-1 this fall and won a regional at Arkansas Oct. 26 to 28, so it will have its entry fee and some travel expenses paid for for the Nirsa event. They finished second in the Nebraska regional in November, losing to flag football powerhouse Angelo State.
The 12-person team also counts on help from NU and other sponsors to finance the trip. Former NU linebacker Blake Lawrence, who played on the flag team last year, also has stepped up as a sponsor and part-time coach.
Hale, who played football at Lincoln Northeast and Minnesota West Community College, said the team's goal is all about finishing.
Last year, they placed third in Pensacola after going for two in the final seconds and losing 27-26 in the semifinals to a Florida team, which went on to win the title.
The team has lost only three games in the last three years against other college teams.
Many of the players have also competed for years in the Nebraska Flag Football League, which is open to any athlete over the age of 18.
“We play on Sundays, and there is close to 80 to 90 teams between Lincoln and Omaha,'' Hale said. “Guys from 18 fresh out of high school to guys in their 40s and 50s who still want to have fun. You have females out there that want to play coed.''
Hale, who plays several positions on defense, is one of the mainstays of the team. Others returning from last year are Josh Tanner, Calvin Mueller and Kevin Dickens. The team this season added former North Platte quarterback Cory Serrano, whose chance to play in college was cut short because of some concussions.
Everyone on the team loves the sport, and Hale said communication, leadership and trust have carried it far.
“We're having fun out there,'' he said.
Calvin Mueller, DL/OL, Crofton High; Ethan Thorp, CB/WR, Diller-Odell; Kirby Reardon, DL/OL, Scotus; Jamaal Hale, OL/LB, Lincoln Northeast; Josh Tanner, C/LB, North Platte; Matt Domangud, DB/WR, Lincoln Southeast; Corey Serrano, QB/DB, North Platte; Luke Tobias, DB/WR, Sargent; Donte Perry, DL/WR, Omaha Benson; Matt McElfresh, DL/WR, Sutton; Cody Wedding, LB/WR, Norris; Kevin Dickens, OL/DB, Grandview High. Coach: Wyatt Godfrey.
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