Two Special Olympics flag football teams from Belleville -- Justice I and Justice II -- took first and second place, respectively, at the Missouri Regional Special Olympics Flag Football Championships, on Sept. 21 at Rams Park in St. Louis.
The PTOEC Justice, in its first year of competition, is the only Special Olympics flag football program in Illinois. It is coached Rich Crothers, of Mascoutah, Bob Kolb, of Freeburg, and Rich Peppers, of Belleville. Several Eastside Justice semi-pro team players also assist the team.
Justice I was placed in the top division because of skill and scores in previous games. Justice I played strong offense and defense en route to a 71-0 victory over the DSFC Fire Eagles, from Kansas City.
Each of the six players scored at least a touchdown. Justice I had to play with a short roster because two players -- Corey Stein and Michael Perrine, of Sparta, were injured.
The Justice I played the Trenton (Mo.) Dawgs for the championship later in the afternoon. Justice I won the game 42-6, with a total team effort. Members of the Justice I are quarterback Anthony Cahoon, of Marissa, center Todd Downing, of Belleville, running back Jason Gass, of Freeburg, receiver Ryan Reiner, of O'Fallon, receiver Jonathon Skortz, of Belleville, and receiver Nathan Schwartz, of Columbia.
Justice II beat Kansas City's DSFC Fire Eagles 28-0. The victory put them in the championship against St. Louis' New Hope Bulldogs.
Justice II was a little out matched in its second game but was able to secure a second-place finish. The Justice II team was put together in July, and this was their first tournament. Justice II members include Kelsey Elder and Alison Roehrig, both of Mascoutah, Tyler McDaniels, of O'Fallon, Dusty Kolb and Travis Skiles, both of Freeburg, Ian Kukonold and Christine Shields, both of Belleville, and Stacey Morgan, of Swansea.
The teams will be celebrating their championship Saturday in Mascoutah. The Justice has been able to secure medals in both years that the area has offered flag football. The team was hoping to go to Notre Dame in October, but the National Tournament was canceled.