Johnny B.’s wins the goods
Maybe it was the sight of snow. Maybe it was tradition. Maybe it was finally getting that first touchdown. Whatever the reason behind the awakening of Johnny B. Good’s, the team was going to take it, as it came from behind to win the adult flag football league championship.
Backup quarterback Charlie Reynolds capped off a 51-second drive with a 6-yard run in the closing seconds of the game, giving Johnny B.’s a 13-12 lead that ended up as the final score under the Thursday night lights at Ski Town Fields in Steamboat Springs.
The Doggs’ last chance came with just seconds left in the game when quarterback Jeff Keller tried to connect with teammate Aron Ponthan in the left corner of the end zone. But the ball sailed just between Ponthan’s arms and the outstretched bodies of two Johnny B. defenders as time expired.
Reynolds has played on Johnny B.’s for the past 14 years, but this year he resumed a backup role. Every year for the past 14 years, Johnny B.’s has made the tournament finals, but Reynolds said something was different this season.
“I had a feeling something special was going to happen this game,” Reynolds said. “We have a ton of experience. I had total confidence.”
However, it appeared as if Reynolds’ gut feeling was going to betray him, as the Doggs got out a 12-0 lead in the first half Thursday. Ponthan caught a perfect pass from Keller before the half to give the Doggs’ a seemingly comfortable two-score lead.
Johnny B.’s didn’t fare much better offensively to start the second half. Missed blocks and dropped balls halted the eventual winning team’s offense.
Then it started to snow, the first significant flakes the town of Steamboat has seen this fall, and Johnny B.’s found a spark.
Johnny B.’s scored its first touchdown and converted the extra point with just more than two minutes left in the game.
A defensive stand, aided by two timeouts and the Doggs’ inability to move the football, gave Johnny B.’s the ball back with 1:14 left and no timeouts.
The team moved the ball quickly on two long pass plays, including Paul Compton’s pass and catch for more than 20 yards, setting up the winning touchdown run from Reynolds.
Hi-way Bar was the top team coming into the tournament, having compiled a 9-0 record through the regular season. The Doggs upset the Hayden-based team, 22-16, in the opening round to advance to the finals.
“We finally played as a team,” Doggs’ Elbert Hawkins said. “The offensive line finally blocked and the defensive line blew it up.”
And the Doggs played well Thursday, but two failed two-point conversion attempts — the story of their season –cost them a shot at the trophy Thursday night.
Johnny B.’s finished the regular season in second place at 7-2, but defeated the Cantina on Tuesday, 26-0, to advance to the finals, before walking away with the trophy.
“We had some injuries this year and didn’t show up for some games during the season,” Reynolds said. “But it’s all about the tournament. Everyone knows that. This is our Super Bowl.”
Christina Freeman, director and coordinator of the flag football league, said 2003 was another great season. Eight teams participated in the league that ran from August through October, including the four that made the playoffs.
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