By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mustangs kick off flag football program
Amanda Johnson
South Effingham's Amanda Johnson talks to her flag football players after a recent game against St. Vincent's Academy. - photo by Photo submitted

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SAVANNAH — A few months ago, Amanda Johnson probably could tell you more about cheesesteak sandwiches than flag football.

Raised in Philadelphia, Johnson, South Effingham’s girls varsity soccer coach, had never played or coached flag football. But she’s young (29 years old), athletic-minded (played soccer at Youngstown State University), watches football on television and accepted the task of coaching the Mustangs newest sport — how hard could it be?

“I thought there were (similarities) for people who watch football, but that wasn’t the case,” Johnson said. “We spent a whole day learning how to pull flags. It’s not as easy as it looks. When someone’s trying to juke you, the flag is moving every which way.”

But she’s learning and having fun coaching a sport that was sanctioned by the Georgia High School Association just two years ago.

The GHSA also sanctioned bass fishing two years ago. South started bass fishing last year while Effingham County began flag football.

This year, the Mustangs started flag football and the Rebels began bass fishing.

“It’ll be a learning curve for everyone involved,” SEHS athletic director Nick Smith said.

But not an overly costly one. Smith said the Mustangs received a grant from the Atlanta Falcons (offered the schools statewide) to help cover some of the costs of uniforms, footballs, flags, “and everything that comes with starting up a program.”

One might have guessed finding athletes for a sport nestled between softball and volleyball in the fall and basketball and competitive cheerleading in the winter would be the biggest obstacle, but that’s not the case.

Smith said flyers about flag football were posted in the hallways and announcements were made over the school intercom.

Johnson said 66 girls showed initial interest. Thirty-six tried out for her team and she kept 20 for junior varsity and varsity teams.

She added her soccer assistant Ashleigh Ulrich to help coach.

Johnson said progress is coming. The Mustangs, playing in the Corral — SEHS’ football stadium, were shut out in their season-opener against New Hampstead.

“We’ve had so much support from the parents and the school at our first game,” Johnson said. “The principal (Dr. Torian White) came out to watch and we had a nice crowd. We didn’t win but we got all of our jitters out. We learned a lot as coaches.”

In the next game against St. Vincent’s Academy, quarterback Kayla Rouse scored SEHS’ first varsity touchdown on a 55-yard run to tie the game 6-6.

The Saints scored on the next play and went on to win 53-6.

But SEHS progress won’t be measured on the scoreboard.

“I’m super excited to help this program grow,” Johnson said. “I think the girls try hard and put their best on the field and as a coach that makes you proud.”