The Newsome High School Wolves flag football team competed in the first regular season FHSAA game hosted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the AdventHealth Training Center. (Photo credit: Hillsborough County Public Schools.)

The Newsome High School Wolves flag football team competed in the first regular season Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) game hosted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the AdventHealth Training Center, located at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, on March 26.

Newsome head coach Anthony Silvestri was impressed with the environment at the AdventHealth Training Center. His team has played at the same facility for the Buccaneers Girls Flag Football Preseason Classic, the largest girls’ flag football preseason tournament in the country; however, there were significantly more fans at this regular season game.

“The experience for both my coaching staff and my players was truly special,” said Silvestri. “Having close to 2,000 fans in that facility, coupled with an in-game DJ and band music, made for an exceptional and polarizing environment. All that considered, the mere fact that these high school athletes were playing in an NFL organization’s multimillion-dollar facility is a memory that both programs, players, coaches and families will surely never forget.”

The game, dubbed ‘Battle Grounds,’ featured the Wolves going up against the Alonso High School Ravens. Alonso came out on top 12-6; however, Silvestri thinks that the experience from playing in this environment will help his team going into the playoffs. 

“I think a game of this magnitude, played in this type of environment and against such a top-quality opponent, surely rewarded us with very valuable experience,” he said.  “We have chosen to play an incredibly difficult strength of schedule this season, so I believe that the quality of our opponents and the experience we have gained from those games definitely has prepared our team to be battle-tested going into these regional playoffs.”

The current senior class for Newsome was a part of the state championship team in 2021. The team also made it to the championship game again the following season. The Wolves took care of business in April, winning their fourth straight district championship. Silvestri and his team hope to make another deep playoff run this season. 

“Our goals have been very clear. We have not talked at all about championships,” he said. “It goes without saying that we certainly want to be a team that’s playing in that final championship game. They are motivated to make a return; however, our focus has been strictly on the opportunity that is in front of us. If we handle each opportunity based on our preparation, then the championship rounds take care of themselves. We’re preparing the same way, and putting forth the same amount of focus and work, to achieve a similar outcome in regionals.”

The Buccaneers will host the FHSAA Girls Flag Football State Championships on Friday and Saturday, May 10-11.

“There’s a lot of positive buzz happening nationally, especially with the inclusion of flag football in the 2028 Olympic Games,” said Silvestri. “The NFL is also doing a tremendous job of having its franchises establish girls’ flag football leagues with an emphasis on growing the sport nationally. More and more U.S. states are beginning to sanction girls’ flag football as a state championship sport. However, the Buccaneers were the first one to the starting line, and they continue to race past everyone else with everything that they continue to do to promote football for everyone. We are so fortunate in this Tampa Bay community to be represented by such a world-class organization.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.