For the Flower Mound Rebels peewee football team, the old saying “if you can’t beat them, join them,” should actually be “if you can’t beat them, kick them out of the league.”
While most football teams are celebrated for going undefeated and qualifying for a playoff spot, the Rebels Navy team (7 & 8-year olds) was informed just prior to its regular season finale earlier this month that they were being banned from the league.
The reason… they were too talented.
“They are too good,” Rhett Taylor, Vice President of the Keller Youth Association football league said in an interview with Scott Gordon of NBC 5 News. “I fully admit it. Absolutely. They are a select-level team. They are too good for a rec-level team.”
The Rebels are not, in fact, a Select team, having many players who have never competed in peewee football until this season.
Flower Mound asked to join the Keller Youth Association two years ago with the understanding that they would have the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot and potential Super Bowl just like every other team in the league.
Taylor, who said “this is the Keller league, not the Flower Mound league,” is also a coach in the Keller Youth Association of a team that played the Rebels a few weeks back and lost 33-0.
“My team got one first down all game,” Taylor said. “And my team is good.”
Taylor told Gordon that if he let Flower Mound play in the playoffs and the Super Bowl against Keller teams, he would have problems from the Keller parents.
Rebels coach and Flower Mound resident Ragan Montero said that Taylor refused to shake her hand following the game between their two teams, and that had she known something like this could potentially happen, she would have never joined the Keller league.
“Why would we enter our team into a league where we wouldn’t have a chance to compete in the playoffs?” Montero asked. “It just doesn’t make sense…this is insane—nobody would enter a league without the chance to compete in the playoffs.”
Montero, who coaches the Rebels with her father Albert Montero, said their philosophy has always been to play every member of her team regardless of ability.
“If we got up, I let kids who never touched the ball before go into the game,” Montero said. “They would say, ‘Coach Ragan, can I run the ball?’ And I would say, ‘sure, man, get in there.'”
The Rebels played a team this past weekend and won by a score of 12-0, and it was shortly thereafter that when Albert received the call saying the Flower Mound team was out of the league.
The worst part of all for Ragan was having to tell her players.
“We just told them that they said you were literally too good to play there,” Montero said. “We told them it wasn’t fair and it hurts, but we have to just keep going. I told them that I was going to fight for them and that I love them and it’s going to get worked out. They were just in tears, crying, and asking ‘why, what did we do?’ And I told them ‘you didn’t do anything.'”
Montero said that there is no appeal process of which the Rebels can avail themselves and said that while the season, unfortunately, is over, the fight is not.
“The season is a closed deal,” Montero said. “They said it wasn’t happening, and we’ve accepted it… it’s hard, and our kids are hurting, but I plan to keep on going because this is not right, and these are my boys and I love them dearly.”
For the Rebels, 10 of their 17 players have never played football before and all 17 players that signed up were given a position on the team.
The Rebels were 7-0 heading into the season finale and had outscored opponents 199-6.
The Keller Youth Association issued the following statement on Nov. 20: Keller Youth Association prides itself in being an all-inclusive program that allows the youth from Keller and surrounding cities to participate in sports. While we offer ‘Select & Elite’ teams for baseball and softball, we have always maintained that our football leagues are “recreational level” only. We made the decision in Fall 2020 to allow a handful of other cities to bring teams to KYA Football to help curb the low registration numbers due to Covid-19. Guidelines were laid out to keep the playing field competitive for these teams and because KYA conducts grass drills and follows a draft process, we asked that outside teams follow the same rules. As the following seasons progressed and our numbers increased, KYA instructed Flower Mound to bring two teams per division so they could conduct a true draft process for each. However, they were adamant in only bringing one team for the 7/8U bantam division that has garnered the recent negative attention in the media. Prior to the Fall 2021 season, the Flower Mound leadership was told that if they brought only one team, and that team was grossly unbalanced compared to the other recreational teams, they would not be allowed to participate in the postseason. Once the Fall 2021 season started, KYA quickly realized the level of talent the Flower Mound team brought far exceeded the level of talent that a team conducting a draft process could have. Multiple conversations were had with the Flower Mound staff regarding the level of talent their team possessed, supported by that they outscored their opponents 199-6 during the regular season. KYA allowed Flower Mound to finish out their regular season games, as well as offered to schedule an end of the season game with another local team that is selected and not drafted, so the Flower Mound team could have a championship style game. Flower Mound elected to forfeit the remaining regular season game and declined the offer to play in this exhibition championship game. In the end, the decision was made to maintain the integrity of our recreational league and provide playoffs for only the teams who followed the guidelines set forth in the preseason.