NIOC Hawaii Anchors claim championship

Story and photos by Randy Dela Cruz
Sports Editor, Ho’okele

Members of the 2018 JBPHH flag football championship squad Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii Anchors pose with the trophy for the second time in three years.

Some people questioned whether a fourth-seed team with two losses on the field during the regular season could make it to the top of the intramural flag football season.

Well, to answer that question, Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii Anchors team captain Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class John Posey said to all of the team’s critics, “A two-loss team won the championship.”

In one of the most competitive and hotly contested flag football championships in years, the NIOC Anchors of the Red Division and the 613th Air and Space Operation Center (613 AOC) DBAs of the Blue Division went into overtime, where NIOC scored on its first play to earn a tough 20-14 victory and become the 2018 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam flag football champs Dec. 2 at JBPHH Earhart Field.

NIOC returns to the top after winning it all two years ago, and as he did in 2016, quarterback Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class Jer-maine Carmenia led the charge for the Anchors by throwing for three touchdown passes, which included the game winner in overtime.

“It’s one of those things where we won it two years ago and it’s a great feeling, and you want that every year,” Carmenia said. “This team isn’t as talented as the team two years ago, but the difference is that this team has heart.”

Right from the start, the 613 AOC proved that they had every right to be in the championship game by opening up the first half with a 60-yard drive to pay dirt.

Quarterback 2nd Lt. Daniel Rodriguez needed only seven plays to get into the end zone and take a quick 6-0 lead. Rodriguez connected with Airman 1st Class Jacob Butler on a 10-yard scoring pass.

After forcing NIOC on a quick four-and-out, the 613 was on the march once again and appeared to score on a bomb from Rodriquez to Butler that covered 44 yards. However, the play was called back due to a penalty – forcing the 613 to punt.

The Anchors took advantage of the second chance and made the 613 pay by going on a 60-yard drive to the end zone. The final play came on a three-yard pass completion from Carmenia to Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 3rd Class Aaron Cockerel.

NIOC took the lead going into halftime after converting on their point-after-touchdown attempt to make it 7-6. In the second half, NIOC needed

only three plays to cover 60 yards and score their second touchdown of the game . Receiver Lt. j.g. Donald Henning traveled 43 yards on a catch-and-run all the way to the house to help NIOC take a 14-6 advantage.

Still, just as they have done all through the playoffs, the 613 AOC wasn’t done just yet.

On fourth and short, Rodriguez picked up a clutch first down at midfield and then on the next play, went deep and found Butler at the NIOC 7-yard line.

Three plays later, Rodriguez threw a high spiral to 6-foot-6-inch Lt. Marcus Hendricks, who made the leaping catch for a touchdown. A converted two-point attempt made it tied at 14-14.

The 613 AOC had one more chance to win the game and avoid overtime, but a pass to the end zone from the Anchors 20 was intercepted by Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Altie Holcome.

“We’ve already seen how the wide receiver was playing,” Hol-come said. “I just trusted my instincts, caught it and overtime.”

On the first play in overtime, NIOC’s defense stopped the 613 on a turnover and then on the Anchors’ first play on offense, Carmenia ended it on a scoring pass to Cockerel.

Although 613 AOC head coach Master Sgt. Abi Scott would have preferred a different outcome, he was most gracious in defeat. With most of the team coming back, he said that he is looking forward to a return to the title game next year.

“I’ve got everyone from A1Cs to two lieutenant colonels on this team,” Scott pointed out. “So it is totally a team effort. It’s awesome to see where the team started off from to where we are right now. To come all the way to the championship, this was just a blessing.”

For NIOC, who has won two of the last three championships, Posey said that the mentality is to win it every year, but he admits that next year might be a little bit harder.

“We got a lot of guys leaving again,” he said. “You may not see the same faces, but you’ll still see the same mentality, same goals, same principles and the same work ethic no matter who’s out here.”

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Category: Sports