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Flag football starts next week

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Tinker's flag football league kicks off the 2012 fall season next week, Commissioner Chris Gaines of the 72nd Force Support Services announced recently.

Once again, the games will be held in the outfield of softball fields. The base football field has been off-limits since early March, when the 72nd Air Base Wing Safety Office closed the gridiron because of extensive damage that included a waterline leak, potholes and uneven patches in the playing area.

The regular season this year will extend for five weeks, from Sept. 17 to Oct. 19, weather permitting -- two games per night will be held Monday through Thursday, at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- and the double-elimination playoffs are slated to start Oct. 22.

Last year the fall season didn't start until October. The playoffs began Dec. 1 but got bumped into January because of inclement weather and holidays, and the 2011 fall season championship game wasn't held until Jan. 19, 2012.

Sixteen teams are scheduled to compete for the league title this fall. They include Contracting, Air Force Reserve White (last fall's league champions), the 72nd Medical Group (runners-up last fall), the Navy's VQ-4 Shadows and VQ-3 Ironmen, M.F.R., 76th Software Maintenance Group, 31st Combat Communications Squadron, Will Rogers, 33rd Combat Communications Squadron, the Gym Rats (2012 spring season champs), Reserve Red, Reserve Gold (2012 spring season runners-up), the 965th Eagles, Navy Security and the Navy's Strategic Communications Wing 1.

Each team is scheduled to play every opponent in its division once.

Next Monday, VQ-4 and Will Rogers are scheduled to clash at 5 p.m., while 33 CBCS and the Medics tangle at 6 p.m. Reserve Gold and SCW-1 are slated to square off at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and Reserve White and the Gym Rats take the field at 6 p.m.

Next Wednesday, a duel between M.F.R. and 31 CBCS is set for 5 p.m., and Contracting and 76 SMXG do battle at 6 p.m. Reserve Red and the Ironmen are scheduled to play at 5 p.m. next Thursday, and the 965th Eagles and Navy Security suit up for a 6 p.m. game Thursday.

Monday and Wednesday games will be played on Field #1, while Tuesday and Thursday games will be played on Field #2. "We had more teams enter than we thought we would, so we needed two fields to accommodate them," Gaines explained.

The playing field will be 64 yards long and 32 yards wide, and will be divided into four 16-yard sections, Gaines reported. The end zones will be 8 yards deep. Because of the narrow dimensions of the field, teams will be limited to 6-on-6.

Players can play only for the team they join. Last year, it was not uncommon for players to occasionally fill vacancies on other teams.

Another rule change is that an intercepted extra-point pass returned for a touchdown will be awarded 2 points; previously, a turnover off a 2-point conversion was a dead ball, Gaines related.

Also, in overtime, each team will be allotted four plays to score. If neither side scores in overtime, the winner will be determined by yardage gained by each team during its one possession during overtime. Last November, the 72nd Security Forces Squadron edged the VQ-4 Shadows, 23-20, in a flag football game that went into triple overtime.