The Chosen, an outside team, came into the Q on Dec. 3, a rainy weekend morning, to play a gritty, grimy, soggy game of flag football. It was the last game the San Quentin All-Madden team will play before changing their name to the SQ 49ers.
The Madden team left its imprint on the muddy terrain by trampling The Chosen 25- 12.
The Chosen was short players so they borrowed some from the Madden team. But volunteer Bill Epling brought in three dedicated players of The Chosen; Ryan G., Phillip V. and coach/player Andre Jackson.
“It feels good to come show you guys some love,” Jackson said as the rain turned from mist to droplets.
The residents were excited to play against outside people. COVID-19 restrictions had held down outside competition for the Madden team. It was SQ resident Will Thomas’s first time playing flag football in prison against free people.
“I’m stoked!” Thomas exclaimed. “It makes me feel like I’m not alienated from the outside world, especially during the holidays.”
After the traditional huddle of both teams, they broke with a chant of “Family!” and the game got underway.
“Slide to the right! Slide to the right!” commanded Madden’s Dewayne Scott to his offensive line. A quick run play by “Smooth” Starks was stopped and Madden went four and out.
A CO watching the game sparked laughter when he yelled over the intercom, “Flag football, you suppose to throw the football!” Referee Carlos Smith counted down the play, “15, 14, 13.” Four consecutive failed drives and The Chosen had to switch possessions.
The rain caused a miss-read, resulting in an interception by “Pookie” Sylvester, which led to The Chosen striking first with a 30-yard pass into the end zone.
Hecklers laughed and shouted when “Taz” Mattlock missed a completion and slid in the mud. More laughs followed when Delvy Adams got a sack on the outside quarterback, causing The Chosen Coach Jackson to fall in the mud also.
All-Madden defender Dewayne Scott’s sack caused The Chosen to go three and out. On defense, The Chosen’s two big linemen, Ryan G. and Phillip V., stopped All-Madden’s advance.
At the half the Outsiders were up 6-0.
In the second half, All-Madden QB Delvy Adams was slippery and barely eluded the grasp of Chosen lineman Ryan G.
“I enjoy coming in and spending time with you guys, but, it’s that muddy field that’s preventing me from getting the QB,” said Ryan G.
On offense, Chosen quarterback “Pookie” Sylvester was picked off by Kolby Southwood.
“That’s the Pookie I know!” yelled someone from the sideline. Later they dubbed Pookie Santa Claus because of the many interceptions he threw.
“He should throw the ball more straight and stop floating it,” said teammate Murdock. Pookie threw another interception taken out of the air by All-Madden defender “Greedy” Johnson.
After a diving catch at the 60-yard line by receiver Southwood, the flea-flicker by Delvy into the end zone was inevitable. After a two-point conversion by Gleekko Williams, who was all over the field, All-Madden led 8-6.
The rain never stopped. Players were sliding and the football became more slippery. The Chosen switched QBs to longtime outside volunteer Phillip V. and the passes were precise. Walk-on player Marcus Eugene received a short pass at the 10-yard line and used his lightning speed to bust for 80 yards until he was stopped short of the goal by Delvy.
The sideline erupted with chatter. “They’ve been moving the ball since they took Pookie out,” said one spectator. “But, Pookie did good, he had two interceptions with one TD,” replied another.
At the 40, the play looked like the old movie, The Longest Yard. Mud flew and grunts echoed as “EJ” Flowers’ sack was taken back by the referee because of a penalty on his Madden teammate. But he continued to apply the pressure on the QB.
Linebackers J. Page and “Scooby” Green were all over the receivers. The Chosen was trying to take the lead with a fierce drive until “Smooth” Starks intercepted the ball at the 20. In response, The Chosen defender Murdock intercepted Delvy’s pass.
A pass interference call on the Madden corner put The Chosen on the goal line. It looked like they were gonna take the lead. It was 19-12 and a touchdown would seal it. Twenty-three seconds left. Then came the throw and the interception by “Steez” Strickland, who ran it all the way to the house for the nail in the coffin.
Celebration in the end zone.
“We came in to have fun,” said Coach Jackson. “I felt like I was in high school again. To lose is not the issue. It’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish. We call ourselves The Chosen because we believe that God has a purpose for us to come in here and change lives by playing football.”
Jackson quoted Bible scripture about visiting those in prison