Knights pummel the Panthers and prepare for States

In their last home game and the Regional Finals of the year, Robinson beats Lecanto 34-0

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Photo Jennifer Le

Isabella Dolce (’21) catches a pass from Sydney Stout (’21). “I’m kind of not ready for [the season] to be over, but I think it’s great because I get to be involved with a team that could potentially win States this weekend and that’s just a great way to wrap up my time in the program,” Dolce said.

Another win this season and the Knights are headed to their fifth consecutive flag football state championships.

In their last home game of the year, the Robinson girl’s flag football team won the Regional Finals game against the Lecanto High School Panthers in the playoffs just four days before the State Championships in Jacksonville.

The Knights first played the Panthers this year at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ annual Preseason Classic. After losing to the Knights, Lecanto ended their season with an overall of 14 total wins and two losses. Immediately at the start of the game, the Knights took the lead.

Isabella Dolce (’21) caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sydney Stout (‘21). In just less than 20 minutes after that, the Knights scored three more touchdown passes to Katejion Robinson (‘23) (22 yards), Jaylen Stasio (‘22) (49 yards) and Robinson again (2 yards).

By halftime, the Knights had already taken the upper hand of the game and the night began to sway in their favor. Quarter two ended 27-0. Stout would throw her hundredth touchdown pass of the season this same night and eventually a state single-season record of 102 touchdown passes.

“Last night’s game was super exciting and I’m honored to reach 100 touchdowns, but what’s more important is our big win as a team,” Stout said.

When the second half of the game opened, the Knights quickly swept the game toward their final victory before States. The game ended 34-0.

Prior to this game, the Knights had an undefeated season with 19 straight wins, their most recent one played against the Southeast High School Seminoles. Robinson flag currently ranks no. 2 on the national level, just below Western High School in Davie, Fla.

…we have to be focused and we’re really preparing for it this week…we have high expectations this weekend”

— Isabella Dolce ('21)

Now with 20 consecutive wins in the season, the Knights are set to play in the States games on Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8, if they win their first game. This will be the first States they will play in since the Spring of 2019, due to last season’s interruption by COVID-19. Their first game on Friday is set against the Miami Edison High School Red Raiders.

“We’re going up there to get a job done. We’re not up there to play around or anything, so we’ve got to really get in that mindset to focus on the game and do what we’ve been preparing for basically a year now” said Head Captain Katie Kemp (’21). Kemp plays as the wide receiver and safety and it is her fourth and final year on the team.

The Red Raiders, located in Miami, rank no. 3 on the national level just below Robinson. They’ve had a successful season with 10 wins and one loss, winning their playoff game against the Monsignor Pace Spartans 12-0.

“We have to prepare for essentially three teams: the team that we know we’re going to play, Miami Edison, and the two teams on the other side of that if we should beat Miami Edison and we’ve got to prepare for them for whatever game we might play on Saturday,” said Robinson Head Coach Joshua Saunders. “We’ve been here before…so the coaches are kind of used to putting this preparation in the two or three days that we have to make it work, and the team’s pretty locked in so that’s always a good thing.”

Saunders talks to the team after the game about preparing for the upcoming State Championships. (Photo Jennifer Le)

Robinson’s flag program had a rocky start at the beginning of the season as they juggled the COVID-19 sports guidelines and the changes made throughout the year. Extra precaution was taken to ensure the safety of the coaches and players as well as other supporting parties.

“When we first had to start, we were spraying down the footballs after every time somebody touched it and we were making sure we had six people at a practice every time. To see [the team] be okay with all that annoyance and all of that stuff so that they can stay safe, and still get to play,” Saunders said. “Getting to watch them do that and it’s in this moment that they get to go to States and win a state title, I think that’s pretty cool.”

For some players who joined the team last year, this weekend will be their first time playing at States. Bella Rodrigues (’23) joined the program in her freshman year but was only able to play a few games due to the season being cut short. She will be joining the rest of the Varsity team as they head to Jacksonville on Friday.

“I’m really excited to go to States. I think we worked really hard this year and there’s been a lot of dedication by the players and coaches,” Rodrigues said. “Overall I think we’re going to win but the games will probably be tougher than any we’ve played so far this season, so I guess we’ve just got to keep playing our best.”

This year’s State Championships will be hosted by Mandarin High School and tickets for the game can be purchased via GoFan. The event is organized by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) and their website will have the most recent updates. Friday will be the seventh straight state semifinal Robinson has played.