Knights win second consecutive state championship over Miami Edison


Photo Isabel Hanewicz

The team holds up the state championship trophy during the final cheer of the season.

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

In a repeat of last year, Robinson’s flag football team secured the FHSAA 1A state title with a 28-6 win over Miami Edison. The FHSAA State Championship, held at Gainesville’s Citizens Field, marked the Knights’ third state title in four years.

“I told the team today, winning isn’t the only goal, it certainly makes all the other goals feel a little bit better,” Coach Josh Saunders said about the win.

In another repeat of last year, the Knights’ path to the state championship game was close, with a 25-19 OT win over Choctawhatchee High School in Friday’s semifinals. But on Saturday, the Knights appeared calm and controlled from the beginning. Captain Emily Draper (’17) scored on Robinson’s first offensive drive off a long pass from Olivia Salzman (’17).

“All I could think after the first touchdown was that we were going to win a state championship today,” Draper said. “We had never seen Edison before and really only knew a little about them so it kind of reassured me that we were more than capable of beating them.”

A safety and another Draper touchdown increased Robinson’s lead to 15-0 after the first half.

Touchdowns by Draper and Emily Kemp (’20), who broke the state record for receiving touchdowns this weekend with 33, added to the scoreboard in the second half. Edison scored on the final drive before the two-minute mercy rule kicked in, ending the game.

For the Knights, it was a confirmation of their statewide dominance. Played in eight states, flag football isn’t yet a common high school sport, and it is not offered at the collegiate level. That’s no matter to Robinson’s program, one that, with its dominance, has grown to expect excellence. The team practices nearly year-round, and the team will start prepping for 2018 in 12 days, this year’s win on their minds.

“[Winning states] is a great feeling for them because of the amount of time that they put into it, and it’s time that they don’t have to put into it,” Saunders said. “It’s time that people tell them: ‘well there are no [college] scholarships, you can’t do this,’ and it’s not like club teams…It’s just because it’s fun for them to get the reward of being the best in the state. It’s pretty awesome.”

For Robinson’s nine seniors- Draper, Salzman, McKenna Tyson, Sarah Jennewein, Charlotte Tuohy, Xacasia Smith, Holland Bakker, Marlin Jacobson and Michelle Santacreu- the time paid off with a career record of 109-2 for JV and Varsity combined, three state championships and one state-runner up title.

Robinson’s seniors: Holland Bakker, Xacasia Smith, Charlotte Tuohy, Olivia Salzman, Emily Draper, McKenna Tyson, Sarah Jennewein, Marlin Jacobson and Michelle Santacreu. Photo Isabel Hanewicz

“All good things must come to an end, and I’m so glad that [a state title] is how my four years playing flag ended,” Draper said.

“It feels good to have made an impact on the team because every single one of my teammates has really made an impact on my high school career and life.”