Flag Kennedy girls as city’s football champs
By Raphael Sugarman
When the John F. Kennedy football Knights won their first of five city championships, Deaisia Acklin hadn’t been born. Neither had teammates Ciara Jimenez, Ashley Hines and Jacqueline Miller.
For the most part, these girls are oblivious to Kennedy’s prominence in boys’ public school football during the mid-80s and 90s. What is absolutely clear to them, however, is that they are responsible for returning football glory to Kennedy.
The Lady Knights defeated the No. 1 ranked Fort Hamilton Tigers, 46-40, on June 6 to win the Public School Athletic League’s (PSAL) first flag football championship.
The game, played at Mott Haven Campus, was a classic, with an outcome that was unclear until the fleeting seconds as the two teams exchanged touchdown after touchdown.
Down 40-38 with only 57 seconds left, the Lady Knights made up the difference on one play, as Acklin connected with Leshauna Phinazee on a bomb down the right sideline. The 2-point conversion sealed the deal.
“We are beyond excited,” said sophomore Dannon Samuels. “We are the first girls’ flag football team that ever won something for their school.”
The tight score in Kennedy’s title game was hardly indicative of its other matches this season.
The team finished 8-0 in the regular season and also won four straight playoff games. Most remarkable was the margin of many of the victories: 52-6 over Truman, 64-0 over Leadership Institute and 40-16 over Bronx Science, to name just three.
Even two of the playoff games it played — against the city’s other elite teams — were lopsided, as Kennedy beat the Academy of American Studies 53-12 in the opening round and Tilden Education Campus 47-7 in the second round.
These numbers even outdo the winning scores of legendary boys’ coach Jerry Horowitz and his championship teams at Kennedy.
“We want every year to be like this,” said Lady Knights’ coach Rafael Vallejo, who was coaching football for the first time this season. “There is a lot of interest that is going to come from winning this championship.”