CSUSM flag football team heads to nationals

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. — College football teams in San Diego County have enjoyed a pretty good season, especially the one that’s headed to nationals.

San Diego State won a share of the Mountain West Conference title for the first time in school history under MWC Coach of the Year Rocky Long.

University of San Diego earned a share of the Pioneer Football League title for the second year in a row.

Cal State University San Marcos gets to play for a national title – at least, the Suspenders, a flag football team from CSUSM, does.

“I always had the dream of winning intramurals and finally I did it on my last year,” said AJ Kirkpatrick.

nccsThe senior kinesiology major assembled the Suspenders, a team mostly made up of members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and they not only won the CSUSM intramural league, but went on to the west region tournament in November at Arizona State. They won every game they played there to earn a free spot in the 48-team national tournament January 4 – 6 at the University of Central Florida.

“We do have a lot of speed,” Kirkpatrick said. “Were a bunch of not-so-tall white kids coming into a big football tournament and we get underestimated.”

Of the 12 players on the team, 11 played high school football. The only one who didn’t was the quarterback – Josh Leiber, a junior from Ramona.

“When I call plays in the huddle, I pretty much just point with my fingers because I have no football lingo,” Leiber said. “They’ll all just look at me like I’m crazy, but it all ends up working for some reason. We all get a kick out of it.”

Using that strategy, Leiber threw 34 touchdowns and no interceptions to earn MVP honors at the West Regional.

“It got us this far,” Leiber said. “So I might as well stick with it.”

The Suspenders don’t hold organized practices, in fact, they only got together at our request for this story shoot.

Regardless of how they do at nationals, Kirkpatrick and his good friends have made some great college memories.

“This is an experience of a lifetime,” he said.

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