Six starters graduated, but Seabreeze is hopeful.
For nearly a month, Seabreeze’s Mike Fries has gone back and forth between the gym and the football field. Conditioning for flag football began in late January — in the middle of the Sandcrabs’ wrestling season. Fries is in his third season as the head coach of Seabreeze’s flag football team. He was made the head coach of the wrestling team in spring 2018.
The Sandcrabs’ flag football team kicked off the 2019 season with a 34-0 win over Warner Christian on the night of Monday, March 4, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. And soon, flag football will have Fries’ full attention.
The high school wrestling season will come to a close on Saturday, March 9. Victor Lipsey was the only Seabreeze grappler to advance to the state tournament, held at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
“It’s been tough,” Fries said. “And we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
In the Sandcrabs’ season opener on Monday night, the sideline was less crowded than the previous season.
Six seniors graduated last season, including starters Taylor Nirschl, Alana Neely, Christen Helem and Grace Remey. In addition, several girls decided not to return to the team this year.
“It’s great to have kids who are athletic like that and can do what you need them to do.”
Mike Fries, head coach
But the shrunken roster does not lack talent.
“We’re explosive, we’re disciplined, and we’ve got a lot of speed,” Fries said. “So I think we’re going to be able to overcome what we’ve lost.”
Enter juniors Bailey McQuarrie and Kara Haas, both of whom started as freshmen in Fries’ inaugural season with the team.
Haas scored three touchdowns against Warner Christian: two on deep passes from McQuarrie and one on an interception return in the third quarter.
“They’re ballers,” Fries said. “It’s great to have kids who are athletic like that and can do what you need them to do.”
To prepare for the 2019 season, the Sandcrabs competed in a recreational league during the winter months that featured predominantly all-male teams. The girls got used to the guys’ “speed, strength and temp.”
“Now, playing these other teams is like it’s in slow motion,” McQuarrie said.
Regardless, the fuel for the remainder of this season is how last season ended: a 26-6 loss to Glade Central in the Elite Eight of the 1A flag football playoffs.
To break into the Final Four and beyond, the Sandcrabs will have to rely on their dynamic duo of McQuarrie and Haas.
“They’re winners,” Fries said. “Those two have that mentality that they hate losing more than they love winning, and that’s what you need.”