Built on premier competition, GHSA flag football is ascending

Photo courtesy of the GHSA

Flag football in the GHSA has grown tremendously since its introduction during the 2020 season. Every year, more and more schools are giving girls new opportunities to play in one of the fastest-growing sports in the state.

In the upcoming weeks, flag football will be a part of the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter 7-on-7 Tournament, with the event being held at West Forsyth. Flag football will also have its own Classic in October.

Playing its first season in 2020, flag football  started out small. Due to it being a new sport during the COVID-plagued 2020 season, only 87 schools fielded teams in two divisions with 43 schools in Division 1 and 44 schools in Division 2. In year one, West Forsyth won the first-ever Division 2 championship, defeating Hillgrove 26 to 25, while Calvary Day became the first team to win the Division 1 championship, defeating Portal 6 to 0.

In the sport’s second year, flag football added nearly a hundred schools, getting up to 181 schools while also adding a third division. The playoffs saw Southeast Bulloch beat Portal 20 to 0 to win the Division 1 championship. The Division 2 title was won by Dodge County, which beat Lithia Springs 6-0. Hillgrove avenged its 2020 championship loss, defeating Marietta 20 to 6, winning the first Division 3 championship.

In 2022, 41 schools joined the sport, pushing the number of schools competing in flag football up to 222. Southeast Bulloch became the first two-time champion, defeating Harris County 13 to 0 to claim its second Division 1 championship. Lithia Springs won the Division 2 title to get over the hump with its first championship after losing in the finals the year before, defeating Central Carroll 14 to 0. Blessed Trinity held off Milton 19 to 13 to win its first championship in Division 3.

Last season, another 24 schools joined the sport. With 246 schools competing in the sport, the Divisions grew to unprecedented sizes with the biggest Division 2 having 92 members. These massive Divisions led to more competitive play and exciting playoffs. In Division 1, Southeast Bulloch cemented its dynasty and won its third straight championship, defeating North Oconee 14 to 0. In Division 2, Greenbrier stopped Lithia Springs’ bid for a second straight title, winning 14 to 6. Pope won a nail-biter in the Division 3 championship, defeating Allatoona 14 to 13.

Flag football will expand to four divisions in the upcoming season — with Division 1 having 72 teams, Division 2 having 70, Division 3 having 66, and Division 4 having 62. Overall, the sport is adding 24 more teams, pushing the number of teams up to an even 270 teams.

At the college level, a few schools are experimenting with scholarship flag football. Starting in 2021 the NAIA added flag football as a scholarship sport. Today there are 16 schools that play flag football in the NAIA, each of the 16 schools has $15,000 in scholarships to give out. That $15,000 can be divided in any way the school and coaching staff desire and to as many or as few players as they see fit. Along with the NAIA the Olympics have decided to add flag football to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, another huge site for the ever-growing sport.


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