Local teams show well at flag tourney

Clovis-based Beasts bests girls 18U field at Hike It Spike It.


May 30, 2018

Courtesy photo

Beasts from the East receiver Blake Muscato races past a slew of Elite defenders for a touchdown during a Hike It Spike It football game in Roswell. The team finished third in the boys 16-and-under bracket.

You know the names. If not, you will.

Football names. Track and field names. Soccer, basketball. Among the eight area teams that ventured down to Roswell over the Memorial Day weekend for the 21st annual Hike It & Spike It Charity Flag Football Tournament, there were plenty of athletes who have already starred for Clovis, Clovis Christian and Melrose High Schools.

Montez Wright, Tristan Sena, Sydni Hill, Kassidy Furrow, Mikyla Harkley and Sofi Garbarino were just some of the participating athletes you probably know if you follow local sports. And there were younger athletes on their way up - such as 13-year-old quarterback Paige Harris - who seem to have bright high school varsity futures at one sport or another. They all made an impact at Hike It & Spike It, the world's largest flag football tournament, that had 584 teams registered this year.

Standing out was a Clovis 18-and-Under team called Beasts from the East, which proved to be just that by winning its bracket championship.

The present and future of local high school athletics appears to be in good shape.

"Yeah, it really does," Clovis High varsity football coach Cal Fullerton said. "It's 4-on-4. Some of it's similar to what we do. ... A bunch of our skill kids got to go play in it and they enjoyed it, man. I talked to a bunch of 'em and they had a really good time."

Clovis Freshman Academy football coach Brad Harris was a ringleader of sorts, getting local teams down to Roswell and even paying for some of the players to attend.

"All of us coaches worked hard getting them prepared for it," Harris said. "And the parents, they worked hard. It's a pretty good deal for Clovis to show up with eight teams and all of them finish top five."

At the top of that heap, of course, were those 18-and-Under Beasts from the East that included: Kameron Kelley, Katie Kelley, Abby Williams, Kyli Osborn, Harkley, Furrow and Hill. The team, coached by Loran Hill, had to fight through a difficult bracket in searing heat to win a championship trophy.

The next-highest local finishers were the Under 12 boys, coached by former Melrose varsity football coach Dickie Roybal and named Last Picked. The team - comprised of Brayden Eldridge, Josh Roybal, Josiah Roybal, Jordan Bryant, Michael Cardinita, Max Sena and Jose Porras - finished second, going undefeated until losing in the championship round.

"We just go to have a good time," Coach Roybal said. "The boys get to work on catching the ball, throwing the ball. They enjoy doing that. ... Our boys are still young enough where they're still learning how to do things."

Still, their competitiveness cannot be overlooked. After making that undefeated dash to the championship round, Last Picked had to be beaten twice by a Hobbs team in the double-elimination tournament to be denied the title.

"We had a great run," Roybal said. "We're hoping that the kids will continue doing that as they get older, because it's a lot of fun, but they learn a lot of skills also."

And, it gives the older athletes somewhere else to display their abilities. When Sydni Hill isn't winning a district golf title, when Tristan Sena isn't helping Melrose capture state football and basketball championships, when Wright isn't contributing to four Clovis second-place finishes at the state track and field tournament, all can shine in another way.

The local U16 boys team - also known as Beasts from the East - was coached by Loran Hill and Evan Baker. These particular 'beasts' overcame an opening-round loss, then went soaring up through the loser's bracket to finish third.

"Man, I'll tell you, Sunday they played five games in 102-degree weather," Harris said. "I'm surprised they made it that far. That was rough."

The team included: Chance Harris; Jeston Webskoski, Blake Muscato, Pacer Hill, Ernesto Acuna, Adrian Gonzalez and Tristan Sena. It had to play eight games in all and made that solid comeback run before losing to the country's top U16 boys team, Tuscon Turf, by a 25-22 score.

The elder Harris coached a U12 boys team, another one named Beasts from the East, which took third and earned a Character Counts award in its bracket. The team was comprised of: Hayden Harris, Peyton Harris, Jaquonnie Coble, Keilyn Parker, Jett Stone and Tayjuan Lewis.

There were two other local teams posting third-place finishes - a U18 boys team named the Wildcats and coached by Jeff Gillespie, and a U10 boys team named Mayhem and coached by Jerrod Long. The U18 team included: Devon Gilllespie, Jaylen Mason, Wright, Malik Phillips, Skyler Segura, Ethan Culliver and Ro Morgan. The U10 team was comprised of: Cruz Zarikta, Willie Jackson, Amare Ivory, Andrae Pullen, Latrell Long, Spencer Eldridge and Bryson Bowie.

Fourth-place finishes were tallied by a local U16 girls team called the Knights, and a U12 boys team named the Clovis Cats, both coached by Matt Chandler. It was that U16 girls team that had 13-year-old Paige Harris as its quarterback, and also included: Kailyn Jefferson, Kiara Cox, Lola DeGroot, Sophia DeGroot, Angie Lopez and Garbarino.

The U12 boys team consisted of: Michael Chandler, Marvin Cox, Jaden Cox, Bodee Bratcher, Ayden Petner, Kayden King and Malaki Harkley. Together, they earned a Character Counts award in their bracket.

In all, it was a good way for the local teams to spend part of their holiday weekend.

"We all have a good time and barbecue and hang out," Coach Harris said. "Of course, we're super-competitive; none of us like to lose. We expected to take home four first-place trophies, but I think the sun just took it out of 'em."

The tournament is great for teen and pre-teen athletes, but also has an adult division called "Show Me The Money," where the grand prize is $5,000. Former NFL and Texas Tech wide receiver Wes Welker has even brought a team to the fray.

"They wouldn't let them play for money," Harris said, "but they sure put on a show."


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