They call themselves the “Angry Birds,” and with their eye black, the all-girl Beverly Falcons flag football team is a formidable bunch to contend with.
The 10 sixth- and seventh-graders more than hold their own against the all-boy teams they play each week in the North Shore Flag Football League. The Falcons are 5-1 this season and have qualified for the top bracket in the playoffs this Sunday. Since they began playing as a team a year ago, they are an amazing 17-3 between the fall and spring seasons.
It all began when 10-year-old Abbey Otterbein told her parents she wanted to play flag football. They tried to discourage their daughter, but she insisted.
“She didn’t know anybody on the all-boys team, and we really didn’t think she was going to have much fun,” said her dad, Leo Otterbein, who coaches the team with two other fathers, Scott Alexander and Bernie Stavis. “But she loved it right from the start, and it didn’t take long to see she was also very good.
“I thought she’d enjoy playing with some of her friends who were into other sports, so I sent out emails. We got a very good response, started up last fall, and the girls caught on right away. There are 14 teams in the league, and we wound up with a 5-1 record, going all the way to the playoff semifinals.”
Shelby Stavis, daughter of former Beverly High football captain Bernie Stavis, is the Falcons’ outstanding quarterback. Lucy Smallman and Abbey Otterbein are the wide receivers, while Sabrina Beaudry is the running back and Brooke Baekey is the center.
On defense, the linebacker is Claudia Brock, corners are Kiely Tenhope and Emily Pratt, and safeties are Jackie Swanick and Kelly Alexander.
“The girls take it very seriously, and there is great camaraderie on the team,” Otterbein said. “They’re all good athletes, and I have to say they are rather intimidating.”