January 13, 2017 10:11:21 AM
When a group of friends formed the co-ed flag football team Foot Clan at Mississippi State in 2015, they didn't know what was in store.
After going through the 2015 season without a quarterback, Foot Clan stuck together and was ready for the 2016 campaign. After winning the co-ed championship at MSU, Foot Clan won a National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Regional championship on Dec. 3-4 in Hattiesburg on the campus of Southern Mississippi. Foot Clan rode the momentum and lost 19-6 to Valdosta State's P-Rex squad in the NIRSA Flag Football National Championship game Jan. 8 in Pensacola, Florida.
"This whole year has just been exciting because I've seen the growth in each tournament. We've played better," Foot Clan's Kymesha Andrew said, "so it's always been exciting. Even when we lost, it was exciting. That's the emotion I can think of."
Andrew played quarterback, wide receiver, and middle linebacker. She was named one of the two MVPs with Valdosta's Lance Jarriel. Andrew and her husband, Tony, were named to the all-tournament team.
Tony found Jeffrey Pate for a 48-yard touchdown in the first half for Foot Clan's points in the championship game.
Along with Kymesha, Tony and Pate, the team includes Devron Cheaton, Zach Cooley, Bethany Jones, Nick Jones, Zierra Long, Jordan Parker, Davis Parker, Jim Myron Ross, and Haley Sbravati.
Kymesha said she met Tony playing sports and she couldn't imagine a better final undergraduate semester than advancing to nationals with her husband.
"This year was probably our most important, most serious year because it was my last year playing since I graduated in December," Kymesha said. "We worked really hard and as always, it was still exciting just being able to play with him for the last time."
Davis, who served as a student manager for the MSU baseball team from 2011-16 and is an equipment graduate assistant, called the entire season "up-tempo."
"When we got to nationals, we didn't slow down," Davis said. "We were excited to be in the position we were in. After the championship game was over, we were slightly disappointed, but after the season we had that didn't last long."
Foot Clan won both of its pool play games to qualify for the playoff portion of the tournament. After winning the first playoff game, the MSU team faced Angelo State. Kymesha said the prospect of playing Angelo State was exciting because there was history between the teams.
"We were nervous because last year they beat us by about 45 points," Kymesha said. "We just played as hard as we could and we trusted each other. We beat them by 19 points. We were super proud of that. That's my most proud moment of the tournament. I think that was the team's most proud moment as well. After winning that game, we kind of felt like we won. I think we took that into the championship game."
By winning the MSU championship, Foot Clan's entry fee to the regional tournament was paid. They played in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on the campus of Middle Tennessee State before the regional tournament and won there, too. Winning in Tennessee paid for Foot Clan to go to nationals and winning in Hattiesburg took care of hotel and other expenses traveling to Pensacola.
Although the season didn't end the way Kymesha and her teammates wanted, it still was a memorable ride.
"Unfortunately we didn't come out with the first-place trophy, but we still felt accomplished," Kymesha said.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.