TAMPA — A football sailed toward Robinson sophomore Katie Kemp in the back of the end zone Tuesday evening — in a do-or-die flag football district final against Jefferson — and Kemp reacted to the pass like a seasoned varsity veteran.
Kemp leaped and neatly intercepted the ball, then promptly ran up the field for a long return.
Funny thing was that Kemp had not only never started a varsity game, but she had pretty much played exclusively for the junior varsity.
Big game? First varsity start? No problem.
“We get everybody prepared,” said Kemp’s sister, junior Emily Kemp, the reigning state Class A flag football player of the year. “I had all the confidence in my sister.”
So did Robinson coach Josh Saunders, who had to start Katie Kemp in the big game because the two players at her position in front of her were playing in a big softball game.
Again, no worries, because the Kemps and Co. went on to seal up a 20-6 victory, giving the prepared and deeply talented Knights their eighth straight district flag title.
Once Kemp hauled in the interception, which snuffed out a bid for the Dragons to take at least an early 6-0 lead, Robinson (14-0) proceeded to take a 20-0 lead on touchdown passes from Macy McClintock to Kristin Werdine (18 yards), Sophie Bailey (12 yards) and Emily Kemp (10 yards).
Jefferson (8-3) scored late but it was simply too little too late.
In the end, Werdine, who ran almost immediately off to a club volleyball practice, said she knew the Dragons presented a stiff challenge but at the same time, “We always had confidence.”
Emily Kemp, who also grabbed an interception, said she believed the defensive preparation, which involved watching plenty of tape, was the biggest key.
“I also have to give a lot of credit to our rusher Chelsey Campbell,” Kemp said of Campbell, who recently came back after sitting out a few games with a concussion. “She makes the whole defense play better because she applies so much pressure."