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Perfect Tar Heels have girl power

Youth Scene

All-girls flag football team went 8-0 during regular season of Friday Night Lights league.

November 07, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • The North Carolina Tar Heels, coached by Dean Valeriano, went 8-0 in the fifth- and sixth-grade division during the regular season of the Friday Night Lights flag football league.
The North Carolina Tar Heels, coached by Dean Valeriano,… (Steve Virgen, Daily…)

A group of boys walked near a field at the Friday Night Lights flag football league in Costa Mesa two weeks ago. The boys were members of the Arizona Wildcats team. They were in awe about what they saw on the field: a team of girls, playing flag football and playing well.

"Did you hear about those girls?" one boy said to his teammate. "Those girls are winning. They're undefeated."

There's fascination when it comes to the North Carolina Tar Heels of the Friday Night Lights fifth- and sixth-grade division. But there's also respect. The Tar Heels are the only all-girl team. They are also the only undefeated team of the 26 teams in the division, as they ran their record to 8-0 two weeks ago after beating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 18-12.

The Tar Heels enter Friday's playoffs as the No. 1 seed and aim to stay alive through the next four elimination games.

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"They all get mad when we beat them," Sadie Pitchess, 12, said of the Tar Heels' opponents. "It's kind of funny watching the coaches get mad."

Wake Forest wasn't particularly happy with Pitchess, who recorded two key interceptions in the game, the latter securing the victory. She also scored the go-ahead touchdown, breaking a 12-12 tie, after she caught a TD pass from quarterback Gabi Valeriano.

"It's really fun for us because we are all friends, and we just have fun," Valeriano, 12, said.

All those girls having fun are Pitchess, Valeriano, Jenna McConnaughey, Jordan Needham, Riley Foster, Mia Ferrentino, Keni Fritts and Mia Burns.

This is their first football experience. The majority of them play the other football, soccer.

"It's awesome because everyone thinks that we can't play," Ferrentino, 11, said. "Then they see us play and they're like, 'Oh, they can.'"

Ferrentino is the fastest girl on the team, and probably the tallest. She said she recently broke three Newport Beach City Meet track and field records in sprint events.

She's usually rushing the quarterback. Against Wake Forest, she picked off a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to give the Tar Heels a 12-6 lead.

The girls remained confident after Wake Forest tied it up, 12-12. Tar Heels Coach Dean Valeriano said it was the team's most competitive game.

Ferrentino remembers when the Tar Heels played their first game. The girls all thought they would lose because they didn't really know how to play yet.

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