Birmingham captures first City Section Open Division girls' flag football title

Birmingham football coach Jim Rose is one win away from his fourth consecutive City Open Division title, but piloting the Patriots’ flag football team to a 14-6 triumph over San Pedro in the section’s first-ever Open Division championship game is a moment he will cherish forever.

Led by his daughter Jessica Rose, the Patriots won on home turf to complete an undefeated season. Father and daughter embraced after a game that left them both physically and emotionally spent.

“What can I say? I’m a proud daddy right now,” Jim said. “I’m more happy for her, just the fact that she gets to experience this. It’s the coolest thing. I’m happy for all the girls. As a dad, how can you beat this?”

Top-seeded San Pedro (24-4 ), the Marine League champion, scored first when all-purpose back Noelani Raigans caught a tipped pass behind the defense and raced to the end zone from 30 yards. Birmingham answered on a double pass from Rachel Lowry to Rose to Bela Gonzalez in the closing seconds of the first half to tie the score 6-6 before halftime.

Mya Oliveros scored the go-ahead touchdown on a double pass and Lowry ran for a two-point conversion with under four minutes left. The Pirates drove to the Birmingham 16-yard line on their ensuing possession and thought they had scored on Shalia Coleman’s grab in the end zone on a fourth-and-10 play, but San Pedro was called for an illegal forward pass, resulting in a turnover on downs and the Patriots ran out the clock.

“They rushed us quick and had me on my toes,” Jessica Rose said.

Birmingham recorded nine shutouts and gave up 40 points in 12 games on its way to the title and Rose, also an All-City shortstop on the Patriots’ softball team, was a major reason why. Playing quarterback, receiver and safety, she picked off 15 passes and accounted for 29 of the squad’s 43 touchdowns whether throwing, catching or running.

“He might be a little tougher on me than the other players, but I’m used to it,” the 17-year-old said, a broad smile across her face. “Credit is given when it’s due. I’m a mini-version of my dad. I’ve missed maybe one or two of his games my whole life and I’ll turn 18 in February. I wish I wasn’t a senior, so I’d have a chance to do this again. I’ve played football my whole life but wish I’d played this instead.”

In addition to his three City titles in football — and a current 41-game winning streak — Jim Rose has one Invitational softball title and now a flag football title to his credit and he will savor it as much as the others. Especially since the Patriots, despite being the unbeaten Valley Mission League champions, were seeded seventh in the 16-team bracket.

“At the end of the day we won every game,” he said. “It didn’t matter where we were seeded. Last year with the boys we were the No. 7 seed and we won, so I wasn’t concerned about any of that.”

Verdugo Hills take Division I crown

Verdugo Hills built a 29-0 lead and withstood a desperate rally in the final 10 minutes by Sylmar to prevail 29-20.

Julianna Sarabia scored the first touchdown from eight yards on a fake reverse and Emily Wagner caught a two-point conversion pass to give the Dons an 8-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half. Jaedyn Smith caught a 19-yard halfback option pass and Wagner added the one-point catch to extend the lead to 15-0. Wagner caught a two-yard touchdown pass and threw to Lauren Brink for the two points and Sarabia scored on a 40-yard run to make it 29-0.

Mia Ceja caught two touchdown passes and two conversions and Jessica Quintero had a 10-yard scoring run and a two-point catch for the Spartans, who had defeated Verdugo Hills in league play.

“When we played them earlier in the season some of us weren’t there because we were still with volleyball,” said Wagner, who also plays softball, volleyball and beach volleyball for the Dons. “If you told me we’d win City when we had at the most five girls at practice over the summer I wouldn’t have believed you.”

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