Prep girls flag football: Black Hills nabs Trailblazer Trophy with 2OT victory


TUMWATER – It is no secret as to why girls flag football is one of the fastest growing sports in the state of Washington and the nation.

The atmosphere at Tumwater District Stadium showed why.

Student sections and communities of Black Hills and Tumwater High Schools showed out in bunches on Thursday night in the only local head-to-head flag football game this season.
“Everybody rallied around usa to make this opportunity for flag football the best it can be,” Wolves head coach Lauren Furu said.

The game itself turned into a thriller.

Claire Johnson hauled in the game-winning conversion in double overtime to allow Black Hills to hoist the first-ever Trailblazer Trophy with a 13-12 triumph over Tumwater.

Both sides failed to convert on their first OT offensive possession and the Wolves stopped the T-Birds the second time.

Johnson, a senior, caught a pass on a five-yard route that unleashed a Wolves celebration that lasted roughly two minutes pre and post handshake line.

“I didn’t know if I was in the end zone or not, so I looked around me and everyone was cheering,” Johnson said. “It was so much fun. We worked so hard for this.”

Back in April is when the Seattle Seahawks granted both Black Hills and Tumwater a grant to have equipment and jerseys needed to field a girls flag football team.

There were a total of 10 practices before Thursday’s game.

“We took it running,” Furu said.

Thunderbirds coach Shari Gibson stated it didn’t take much convincing for their roster to have full buy-in.

“They were really invested,” Gibson said. “They were really excited right out of the gate and ready to go.”

Johnson and the rest of the Wolves relished in the opportunity to be a part of something special.

“A lot of my friends and teammates wanted to do it and we just thought why not?” she said. “It was a fun way to end the year.”

It was a contest featuring two 20-minute halves with each side getting one timeout per half. Black Hills struck first on a passing touchdown in the first half to lead 6-0 entering the locker room.

Tumwater responded to tie the game on a diving catch by Lucy Bergford in the second half, then in the final 10 minutes, the Wolves’ Marlie Voorhies tip-toed the sideline and avoided her flag being ripped off for the go-ahead score.

“Asked them to work hard and dive in,” Furu said. “It just comes down to one play. For it to be in this environment, (I) should have known.”

The T-Birds tied the game on a pick-six by defensive back Jenna Graves. Time expired on Black Hills’ last offensive possession and the game was sent to overtime.

Johnson admitted she didn’t know about it.

“It was kind of new for everyone,” she said. “We want to beat Tumwater one last time.”

Just one vote kept the motion to sanction girls flag football by the WIAA at its latest board meeting. Gibson agreed with the comparison to when girls wrestling was sanctioned.

Support is there, but how does the sport fit structurally within the athletic calendar?

“Girls are looking for something more like this and would be super excited about being able to put in a full season,” Gibson noted. “I can’t even wrap my head around how they do (figure out a schedule).”

Black Hills was invited and will try to participate in a statewide girls flag football tournament in two weeks held at the Seahawks practice facility.

Even though Johnson won’t be suited up for when the sport is sanctioned, she sees the timeline at the longest five years.

And there’s plenty of backing from the school to keep it more than active.

“I hope they can see how much everyone loves watching this and it turns into a real thing,” Johnson said. “If they hear the feedback from how this went, I really hope it gets sanctioned.”