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Female stand-in helps Michigan football team earn a win

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In Romeo (Mich.) High School's second football game of the season, the Bulldogs upset Dakota (Mich.), 17-10, for their first win of the season. One player accounted for five of the seven points that served as buffer between the teams, and it was her first week on a football field.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, Ashley Flinn was called into surprise duty for the team's second game after the Bulldogs learned their starting kicker, Evan Simpson, was forced to miss the game because of a scheduling conflict with the soccer team, for which Simpson also plays. Flinn is a fellow soccer player and a member of the Romeo volleyball team, but since girls' soccer competes in the spring in Michigan and the volleyball team had the night off, Flinn was free to take over Simpson's role. What followed was a flawless night of two extra points and a field goal that helped give Romeo a first victory.

"It meant a lot to get the chance to do it," Flinn told the Free Press. "It was pretty cool. That was probably the most exciting thing I've done."

Still, it was hardly a given that Flinn would be a difference-maker in Romeo's first win. Romeo co-coaches Jason Couch and Curt Reinas told the Free Press that they only asked Flinn to come out to try for the fill-in kicker position as a joke. Then they watched her out-kick the player they had in mind.

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Couch should hardly have been surprised: He's Flinn's uncle, and watched Flinn and her brother, former Romeo All-State kicker Robbie Flinn, kick at his summer football camp for years. Though Ashley typically spent as much time bringing back balls for her brother to kick as actually kicking, she followed his athletic footsteps by becoming a star soccer player; she's already accepted a scholarship to play at Central Michigan. If those omens weren't strong enough, Flinn's addition even made it easy on the uniform providers: They already had a jersey with "Flinn, 19" to use from Ashley's brother the year before.

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As much as Flinn might have fit in on the field, that didn't keep those around her from getting nerves. Romeo was down 10-6 following a Bulldogs touchdown when Flinn trotted onto the field for the first time. As the teams lined up for the point-after, Romeo holder Zach Bellas lined up on the wrong side -- Flinn is a left-footed kicker while Simpson kicks right-footed -- until Flinn corrected him.

If Bellas and teammates and coaches were on edge, it's clear that Flinn never was. She later came out for a chip shot field goal, knocking it through with ease.

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"I wasn't too nervous for that one," Flinn told the Free Press. "That was exciting, especially when it went through. [...] My mom was so nervous, she said she couldn't watch when I went out to kick. My dad was excited. He knew I could do it."

With her football cameo scheduled to come to a close, Flinn was supposed to head back to a full-time spot with the volleyball team last week, but isn't completely free from football yet. Simpson came down with a sprained ankle, which means the Bulldogs still need Flinn around as cover, just in case he can't kick (Simpson did return to play in Friday's 14-0 Romeo win over Utica Eisenhower).

Then again, maybe Flinn isn't ready to give up on football at all.

"But I've always wanted to actually play, not just kick," she told the Free Press. [...] "Maybe receiver, but not quarterback. Oh, definitely not quarterback."

Given her success kicking the ball, she might have a shot at accounting for all seven points on some drive if given the chance at wide receiver. She can certainly run, and as she proved in Week 2, she's not fazed by all this football hype.

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