For The Republic
When Berkshire Hathaway realtor Ryan Ebener decided to help sponsor a team in the Columbus Flag Football League two years ago, he wasn’t thinking about making a comeback at first.
But the lure of playing flag football again and the camaraderie that it encourages still appealed to him.
“I came back because I love the game,” said the 1997 Columbus North graduate and former high school wide receiver. “I love being on a team because I’m self-employed, so I don’t get much of the team atmosphere at work.”
At 2 p.m. Sunday on PAAL Field 2, Ebener will quarterback his undefeated Berkshire Hathaway team against On Tap in the CFFL championship game.
Admission is free, and fans will see a matchup brewing between the league’s top two teams. During the league’s round-robin regular season, On Tap’s only loss was to Berkshire Hathaway.
On Tap is the league’s defending champion, and its members communicate well on and off the field with each other, which gives them a shot to repeat this year.
“On Tap needs to be at full strength to have a chance against the athleticism of Berkshire Hathaway,” CFFL Commissioner Larry Anthony said. “I think they will be missing a couple of players Sunday, but they’re a close-knit team, and that was a big reason they won the championship last fall.”
A big reason for Berkshire Hathaway being undefeated is its explosive offense, which has scored more than 20 points each game. Ebener is a dual-threat quarterback who can make quick decisions, which is a key because of the game’s frantic pace.
In the red zone, Ebener can throw an end zone fade to D.J. Marchiando, a 2009 North graduate and former high school wide receiver. Marchiando is one of several players who are threats to score whenever they touch the football.
“I think this is the most athletic team I’ve ever played on,” Marchiando said. “We each contribute by doing whatever we have to do. Mostly, I play wide receiver and cornerback. I’ve also played on our line and at quarterback when we’ve had teammates missing.”
Marchiando has spotted some of his former Bull Dogs teammates joining the league, which thrills him.
“That’s made the league a lot more competitive,” he said. “It’s been a very competitive tournament this year. That competition and the ability to play with the same teammates each year are big reasons that people keep coming back to play in this league.”
After 17 years, playing in the CFFL is already something that connects generations of young men and women. A women’s league typically plays each spring. When interest is high enough, women’s leagues also have been played during the fall.
Anyone interested in playing flag football can contact Larry Anthony through the league’s Facebook group or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Columbus Flag Football League championship
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: PAAL Field 2
Teams: Bearkshire Hathaway vs. On Tap