Piedmont flag football gets historic victory

Damin Esper

Piedmont's Friedie Schickedanz prepares to pass the ball during a 12-6 win at Mt. Eden.

Friedie Schickedanz’s pass to Malea Hartford looked like a perfect play. The two connected with just 14.8 seconds left in the game on a nine-yard touchdown pass to lift Piedmont High School to a 12-6 win over host Mt. Eden on September 21 for the first win in Highlanders program history.

But there were a couple of bumps along the way. The play was installed in practice on Sept. 18. However, Schickedanz wasn’t at practice that day. She picked it up the next day but practice was cut short because of the air quality and the team had to practice indoors on Sept. 20.

“I’d actually only run that play once,” Schickedanz said. “It was just kind of miraculous. I just trusted my teammate Malea. I trusted the whole team would execute the way they needed to do. I just took a deep breath, looked and threw to the first girl I saw. And Malea kept her hands on the ball and we scored and it was awesome!”

Said Hartford, “I basically just ran straight in the middle of the field and sat down on the line. I literally just run in a straight line, turn around and hope for the ball. I don’t think anyone knew I was in the end zone but I did.”

That was the game-winning score. But the game-tying score, with 5:02 to go in the game, was even crazier. Peyton Watson took a handoff at the Monarchs 26. She thought someone grabbed her flag. So she stopped. Standing there for a moment, Watson realized her flags had not, in fact, been stripped. So she took off.

Then, she thought she was down again and paused. And once again.

Eventually, Watson started running again and did not stop until she reached the end zone. And if they build a statue someday outside Witter Field to commemorate the first touchdown in Highlanders flag football history, it will be of Watson, flags very much still attached at the hip, flying free in the wind during her 26-yard run.

“I was running and I felt like I got my flag pulled three times so I would keep stopping to check,” Watson said. “Then, I saw all of my teammates crowding around me going, ‘Go! Go!’ So I was just running as fast as I could. I was checking for my flags once I reached the end zone.”

Piedmont’s Greta Schleuning (right) reaches for a flag during the Highlanders Sept. 21 game at Mt. Eden.

Mt. Eden (0-1) took a 6-0 lead in the first half on a 37-yard interception return by Angelina Roxas. But similar to their opening loss to Alameda, the Highlanders (1-1) did not quit.

“The coach can now breathe,” Piedmont coach Beth Black said. “My reaction to it, they’re happy, I loved it. That was because of what they worked on. It wasn’t a fluke and that’s the good news.”

Piedmont’s Dorothy Nemeth tries to evade a tackled against Mt. Eden.

With a win under their belts, the Highlanders are ready to keep building the program.

“It’s really exciting,” Hartford said of getting the first win in school history. “I think it’s going to be a big thing that’s passed down in Piedmont history.”

Piedmont’s Miya Fujimoto (17) turns the corner in front of teammate Mia Leggett (right).

Said Mia Leggett, “I think it shows that we mean business. That people should come out and watch our games. It’s super-fun to play and super-fun to watch.”

Schickedanz agreed.

“It really is a step towards establishing ourselves as equal to the guys football team,” she said. “Not just in name, but in status and have people come out to our games and put us as athletes out there and cement that girls and female athletes can do just as much and do just as well as our male athletes.”

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