Flag Football: Samohi Girls Flag Football’s Sofia Moreno-Morales (#0) makes her way through several Warren defenders during an Aug. 29 match up. Photo by Thomas Leffler


The 2023 fall season introduces girls flag football to the schedule, the sport’s first year officially sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation

A new breed of competition has injected life into the Samohi athletics program.

The 2023 fall season introduces girls flag football to the schedule, the sport’s first year officially sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation. The 7-on-7 affair came to Samohi campus for the first time on Aug. 29, as the Vikings played an exciting preseason game against Warren High, losing a close 30-29 contest.

Despite the defeat, a bevy of community members and SMMUSD students alike came out to cheer on the new squad, including rousing support from the junior varsity boys’ football unit. Coach Ramsey Lambert, who also serves as weight training and conditioning teacher for Samohi athletics, called the opening home game an “amazing” experience.

“That support for a new sport was pretty special for the girls,” Lambert said. “They said it (the next day) after practice, they were like ‘it was a fun game.’ They really enjoyed it, even though they lost, they had so much fun. Especially because (of) the energy from the crowd.”

Previously the varsity boys’ football coach for three seasons, Lambert was at a crossroads in the offseason, weighing a chance to return to coaching the boys’ squad against the opportunity to lead a fresh program. Eventually, Lambert considered the excitement of female athletes he worked with in the weight room, becoming the leader to jumpstart the girls’ program.

“That was something I was going to pursue to ensure that the school, first off, had a program, and (with) someone at least with some football experience and knowledge in the area,” he said.

Despite the expertise, Lambert is still figuring out the complexities of the 7-on-7 flag rules as compared to his time working with 11-on-11 football. According to CIF flag rules, games consist of two 20-minute halves with a running clock until the final two minutes of a half. Fields can be anywhere from 50-80 yards in length as opposed to 100, and both offensive and defensive strategies are vastly different from what is seen on Friday nights.

On offense, no blocking or moving screens are allowed, all players are deemed eligible receivers during a play, and the quarterback can only run the ball once per series of downs. For defense, no excessive contact is allowed, teams can only send two pass-rushers at a time, and a defender must make a play at a flag instead of attempting to strip or knock a ball free.

The rule changes have led to both Lambert and his team “learning on the fly,” with strategic planning limited due to the amount of unknowns about the sport and opponents alike.

“(With 11-on-11), it’s a lot of film and breaking that down and finding tendencies, and looking at the history of coaches and schools and what they’ve done in the past … with us, we have no clue what we’re going to see during the game most times,” Lambert said. “So for us preparing, we’re trying to do our best to just be really good at what we do.”

What the Vikings can do is convert their speed and endurance from other sports onto the football field. The majority of the roster are two-sport athletes, as girls entering the flag program come with experience from soccer, basketball and track. Lambert notes that the track sprinters are “naturally good with the ball in their hands,” while soccer players understand the spacing and angles related to running routes. Basketball also translates to the flag game, he says, because the Vikings’ “fast break” style of play is much like “trying to manipulate defenses by your movement” on the court.

Along with physical attributes, the mental ability of the Vikings unit will allow them to pick up the playbook and rulebook alike as the season continues.

“We have some girls who really just started to study hard right away,” Lambert said. “They are eager. I think most of them are two-sport athletes … and so they kind of already come with that competitiveness and willingness to learn.”

The Vikings have tasted both victory and defeat in the preseason, taking two wins from Cabrillo High before the home loss against Warren. Bay League action begins September 28, when Samohi will deal with opponents Peninsula, Palos Verdes, Mira Costa and Redondo. Though there is no official playoff slate, the girls are still giving their all, as Lambert says the experience in front of the excited home crowd was “validating” for the athletes.

“They were … just a little reluctant to go on the field because they know boys have been playing this type of sport forever … for them to have that competence last week to go out there and play pretty well, and then play a good game again back-to-back, I think that has really go them with their chins up and their desire is pretty strong,” the coach said.


Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...