The Newsome flag football team won its first state championship in their school’s history. (Photo courtesy of James Gilbert, Florida Football.)

Newsome High School flag football Head Coach Justin Shive knew that his program had potential when he took over the job three years ago. All the hard work from his players and his coaching staff have culminated in a Class 2A FHSAA State Championship win for the Wolves. Quarterback and safety Devyn Silvestri took home MVP honors.

“During the game, my adrenaline was running, but once we scored the last touchdown and got the extra point, I started to get super excited,” said senior pass rusher and team captain Caroline McKenna. “When they started counting the clock down from 10, I started crying because I couldn’t believe what we accomplished.”

After beating Lennard to win the district championship, the Wolves went on an historic playoff run, dispatching of state powerhouse and two-time defending state champions Alonso Ravens 27-0 and taking care of business against crosstown rival Bloomingdale 20-19 in the regional final to send them to states in Jacksonville. Newsome had never won a playoff game until this season.

“In my opinion, the most memorable moment during this season, besides getting to the state championship, is the game we played against Alonso, the state champs from 2019,” said McKenna. “We were very nervous, but we went out there and played our game and ended up beating them 27-0. Once that happened and we beat the state champs, we had a lot of confidence.”

The Wolves soundly defeated Navarre High School 33-18 and won a very close game in the state championship against Western High School 20-19, capping off a school-record 20-1 season and, more importantly, the state title.

“It means so much more than just words,” said senior wide receiver and captain Jade Hickey. “I have been working hard with this team for four years, and to end my senior year by winning a state title with them felt amazing, because I knew that with the hard work we were putting in that it would equal the desired outcome that we had on the field.”

Shive, who has been coaching football for 21 years, was overwhelmed with excitement when the final second clicked off the clock after his team took victory formation after stopping Western on 4th and 1 on the 40-yard line.

“Every coach dreams of winning a state title, but they are very hard to come by,” he said. “It was just pure excitement—nothing is better than watching the emotion of your players after they’ve won something of that magnitude. It was just an incredible moment.”

Shive said that he looked at the Alonso and Robinson flag football programs as a template for success and wanted to emulate their hard work when he took over three years ago.

“The girls wanted to be good, they wanted to be one of those top programs, but they needed to learn how to put in the work,” he said. “The last three years we have committed ourselves to working hard in the offseason. They play AAU, they commit themselves to getting better, and that’s what has made us what we are today. Great teams are player-led.”

The team was celebrated by their fellow classmates and administration at a clap-in as they walked through the open-air campus, followed by the drumline, as the whole school cheered them on. They were also recognized by the Newsome school board and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. They will also have a chance to take pictures with the Lombardi Trophy at Robinson High School.

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