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Flag Football

Alonso, Robinson appear in national Nike flag football ad

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Robinson flag football celebrating

Alonso and Robinson are widely recognized throughout Florida as flag football juggernauts. After all, they have a combined seven state titles in the past six years. 

Now, the two powerhouse programs are receiving national recognition. 

On Tuesday, Nike unveiled a new ad campaign to promote flag football. The shoe company and the NFL have pledged $5-million in hopes of turning the game into a national varsity sport. The push includes a commercial featuring Alonso and Robinson that is scheduled to start airing on the NFL Network on Wednesday. 

The teams spent 13 hours filming the spot at Alonso on Jan. 10. 

The connection Alonso and Robinson have with Nike started in the summer of 2019. The company wanted the schools to be their flagship programs in an effort to make girls flag football a high school sport in all 50 states. 

“We did that last year and (Nike) came down to Tampa for the preseason event at the Bucs to check us out and see all the fantastic gear that they put the girls in,” Knights coach Josh Saunders said. “They did a lot of cool things for them during the pandemic, as well”

Each team received roughly $22,000 in gear, including cleats and uniforms. 

In December of last year, Saunders said Nike wanted to the two schools to be a part of a commercial. 

This is not the first time Robinson’s flag football program has had the national stage. 

In November, Knights running back Adrianna Williams got to break down game tape with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett as part of the NFL’s Next Generation series. The segment aired on ESPN before the Buccaneers’ Monday Night Football game with the New York Giants. 

Last week, Alonso and Robinson represented the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation at the NFL Flag Bowl. 

Flag football is currently sanctioned in state associations in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and New York.

But the sport is growing — not just at the high school level but also in college. 

In May, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced a partnership with the NFL and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX) to put together the first women’s flag football competition governed by a collegiate athletics association.

The plan is to increase participation at the college level through showcases that started this past summer. Competition guidelines will be outlined for colleges interested in starting a program with the first competitive season to be held this year and the first emerging sport or invitational championship in the spring of the following year. 

An emerging sport at the NAIA level must have at least 15 participating schools and invitational status needs at least 25. A sport also is required to have 40 schools involved to be considered for full championship status.

There currently are 11 state colleges that compete at the NAIA level, most of which have already added flag football. 

More on flag football

Flag football all-state teams loaded with locals

NAIA to offer flag football for females

Flag Football

The PTP flag football players of the week

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The fans’ pick

WR Jade Hickey, Sr., Newsome

A two-sport star, Jade Hickey splits her time playing club soccer for Tampa Dynamo and flag football at Newsome. 

Better still, she will continue to play both sports at Warner University. 

With Hickey’s college plans already secured, she has spent the spring becoming one of the Wolves’ most reliable receivers. 

This past week, she had a combined 12 receptions for 155 yards and four touchdowns in three games. 

Fans took notice. Hickey received 41 percent of the votes (2,325) to beat out Robinson’s Kate Robinson, who had more than 34 percent (1,955 votes).  (Photo courtesy of Mike Gallagher).

The PTP pick

WR Kate Robinson, So., Robinson: Led the Knights with 10 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns to beat Newsome in a battle of area undefeated teams.  

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Flag Football

Time to vote: Girls flag football player of the week

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Here are the nominees for the girls flag football player of the week. Voting lasts through Tuesday. 

WR/MLB Isansa Bonga, Jr., Alonso: Finished with a combined 12 catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns on offense and 10 flag pulls on defense in wins over Chamberlain and Plant. 

DB/WR Emily Gundin, So., Bloomingdale: The versatile playmaker picked off two passes and had a touchdown to get past Sumner for the Bulls’ second straight win. 

WR Jade Hickey, Sr., Newsome: Ended up with a combined 12 receptions for 155 yards and four touchdowns in three games last week. 

WR Kate Robinson, So., Robinson: Led the Knights with 10 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns to beat Newsome in a battle of area undefeated teams. 

Pick the girls flag football player of the week
Pick the girls flag football player of the week
Pick the girls flag football player of the week

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Flag Football

The PTP flag football players of the week

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The fans’ pick

WR/S Jaela Davis, Jr., Brooks DeBartolo

A starter on the girls basketball team, Jaela Davis played a key role in helping the program reach the state semifinals this season. 

The two-sport star also is leading the flag football team on a successful run through the regular season. 

As the top receiver on offense and ball hawk on defense, Davis helped the Phoenix rebound from a 1-3 start with five straight wins. 

Two weeks ago, she compiled more than 150 yards receiving and three touchdowns on offense. Davis also recorded a combined three interceptions, including one that was returned for a score.

Fans took notice. Davis received 50 percent of the votes (4,880) to beat out Newsome’s Kayla Ludwig, who had 25 percent (2,443 votes). 

The PTP pick

WR/QB/CB Kayla Ludwig, So., Newsome: The leading scorer on the girls basketball team also has put up some impressive numbers in flag football. In four games two weeks ago, Ludwig had a combined 315 yards of offense (208 receiving, 107 passing) and six touchdowns. She also picked off a pass on defense. (Featured photo above courtesy of Mike Gallagher).    

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