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Flag football brings athletes together for cause
Team Elites Raekwon McMillan closes in on Rainbow Warrior Ethan Pringle, reaching out to grab his belt of flags - photo by Photo by Pat Watkins

The four students who have earned the $1,000 scholarships are:
• 2012 graduates Morgan Crowley and Antonio Smith, both of Liberty County High School
• 2013 graduates Kelissa Hargrove, Bradwell, and Robert “Bailey” Kitchings, LCHS.

Click here to see more photos from the tourney

The Kalamazoo Conquistadors again won the Joe Watkins Memorial Scholarship Flag Football Tournament on Saturday at James Brown Park.
The team was made up of friends of the tournament’s namesake, a Liberty County High School graduate who was attending Georgia Southern University on a baseball scholarship when he was killed in a car wreck in November 2011.
The annual tournament raises money for scholarships given to baseball and softball players who graduate from either Bradwell Institute or LCHS.
An estimated $1,700 was raised. With other donations, two more scholarships will be awarded in 2014, said Jan Williams, Watkins’ mother and one of the fund’s founders.
The tourney began in 2011 during a conversation between Mystery Ellert and Levi Deese, who plays on the Conquistadors. He, Whitmore, Trey Sikes, Cameron Harris, Javaughn Shuman and Austin Schultz have kept it going. Kathy Sikes  headed up the adult volunteers, concessions and tracking the money.
Deese said he considered this year’s tourney a success.
“We had 13 teams, so 125 to 150 players,” he said.
The Conquistadors — made up of Whitmore, Deese, Sikes, Harris, Schultz, Shuman, Antonio Smith, Eddie Chipple, Bruce Bland and Aron Pringle — have won the tournament each year, and this year went undefeated.
The championship game was against #WIN, made up mostly of former Liberty County students who now attend GSU: Michael Rodriguez, Shaheed Foster, Robert Rodriguez, Joseph Holmes, Robbie Bacon, Tay Tay Bacon, Nick Garcia, Jarret Rivers, Kylen Riley and Demetrius Stinson.
Other semifinal teams in the double-elimination tourney were the Rainbow Destroyers and the Hinesville Hurricanes, playing as the Untouchables. The Untouchables had to forfeit the semifinal rounds because some players had to leave.
The organizers plan to keep the tournament going.
“We keep doing it for a couple reasons,” organizer Brandon Whitmore said. “We want to give back to the community and it is a great way for Joe’s friends and family to connect over the holidays.”

Editor’s note: The author is the father of Joe Watkins

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