Championship set for Tuesday against Crossroads after New Jew concedes playoff game

Injury and approaching darkness caused game to be suspended in third quarter with Shalhevet leading 25-6; Tuesday’s 5:30 kickoff will be last for Coach Buckley


BP Photo by Goldie Fields

SUSPENDED: An ambulance pulled up to the Firehawks’ home field at LACES during Thursday’s flag football playoff game after a player from New Community Jewish High School, Alex Greenberg, was injured. Shalhevet was leading 25 – 6 and New Jew later conceded the game.

By Zack Hirschhorn, Staff Writer

Shalhevet’s appearance in the Coast League’s championship flag football game tomorrow is not unexpected. The team is undefeated in league play, with a record of 12 wins, zero losses.

But how it got there was a surprise. Its first-ever playoff contest – played on the home field at LACES against New Community Jewish High School — was suspended in the third quarter Oct. 30 due to a New Jew player’s injury and the impending darkness. Before the game was called off, Shalhevet led by a score of 25-6, and eventually New Jew decided to concede.

The game was expected to be a blowout, as Shalhevet had demolished the Jaguars 35-0 in a prior meeting.  But feelings were high after Coach Christopher Buckley, who formed the team in 2013 and is the only person ever to coach it, resigned unexpectedly the day before.

Mr. Buckley, out of uniform, was on the sidelines at the game and had worked on plays with team leaders in the hours after he resigned. But Firehawk parent Charlie Wiesel, whose son Alexander plays defensive end, was the official coach, and it was quarterback Jacob Dauer who was calling plays on the field — something rare even in professional football.

The game started at 4:30. A record crowd of about 75 spectators stood around awkwardly as students and faculty watched administration sharing the drought-yellow turf with the just resigned coach.

The Firehawk offense struggled in the first quarter but found its stride in the second, with Jacob Dauer throwing for two touchdowns, one to Adam Kaufler and one to Jeremy Glouberman. Combined with an interception by Eitan Halpert, that gave Shalhevet a 19-6 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, the biggest play came with Shalhevet inside the Jaguars’ 20-yard line. Jacob dropped back and threw a touchdown strike to running back Micah Gill, who caught it with his feet barely in bounds. After this touchdown Shalhevet went up 25-6 and really looked like the undefeated team it is.

Then, with 2:46 left in the third quarter, the game was stopped when a Jaguar wide receiver, No. 26 Alex Greenberg, jumped backwards for a catch and fell on his tailbone and elbow. He rolled around in obvious pain for a few minutes and officials said he couldn’t move, or possibly feel, his right arm.  Firehawks dropped to one knee on the ground in their positions as they waited.

By the time an ambulance arrived, Alex was moving his fingers, but he was still in pain and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The ambulance drove up to the edge of the field at around 5:40 p.m. as the sky was darkening. Both teams and all the spectators clapped as paramedics put the injured player on a gurney and rolled him off the field.

Interim Coach Wiesel said the game had been suspended.

“The game was suspended due to an injury and because of impending darkness,”  Coach Wiesel told spectators on the Shalhevet sideline. LACES field has no lights.

He said the coaches would decide together when to resume it, and that it would be continued at the time point where it left off. But at around 10 p.m., New Jew conceded the game and the Firehawks were headed for the championship.

The next day, Rabbi Segal forwarded the Boiling Point an e-mail from Dr. Bruce Powell, New Jew’s head of school, saying that the injured player had a bruised tailbone, bruised elbow, and broken wrist, and that he was “in good spirits, considering.”

Then on Friday, Rabbi Segal announced that Mr. Buckley would coach the championship game.

“Mr. Buckley has led the team through an amazing season, and we are really pleased that he will be at the helm  for the championship game,” Rabbi Segal wrote in an e-mail to the Shalhevet community.

The former coach led the team through two final practices, Sunday morning and Monday night.  The Monday practice, which started at 8:30 p.m. the night, gave the players a chance to try out Crossroads’ artificial turf.

On Monday afternoon, Athletic Director Eli Schiff announced via Schoology that the school had hired buses to take students to the championship game, set for 5:30 p.m.