People power the Chaldean Football League

Green team wins coveted Chy Cup in double-overtime thriller

By Steve Stein

The Chaldean Football League is all about winning the coveted Chy Cup. It’s also about the people who make up the six-team flag football league.

People like Karl Dallou, who completed his 30th season last fall. People like Ernest Yaldo, who finally became a league champion in 2017 in his 19th year in the league. People like Andrew Shango, a first-year quarterback who led the Green team to the league title last fall. People like Lance Samona, the Green team player-coach, who admittedly took a gamble when he made Shango, one of the league’s top receivers, the team’s quarterback.

Dallou, 47, epitomizes the value of the league’s veteran players. He admits he can no longer keep up physically with younger players, so he uses his smarts and guile to be productive.

He’s been an outstanding quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. Now he mainly plays wide receiver on offense and occasionally plays linebacker on defense.

“I’m just an average player now, but I’ll do anything I can to help my team win. I’ll do my job,” he said. “I’ve learned the game. I know how to get open on pass routes. “I still have the fire to play, and I’m competitive. I’ll keep playing until I’m horrible.”

Dallou has been a part of five league championship teams. But he hasn’t won a league title for several years, perhaps as many as nine. “I want to win one more time. Then I’ll probably ride off into the sunset,” he said.

Samona, a second-year coach, said his Green team’s rallying cry in 2017 was “Win one for Ernie.” That would be Yaldo, who had never even played in a league championship game until last season.

The Green team achieved its goal for Yaldo, beating the Yellow team 13-0 in the league playoff semifinals and the Blue team 20-13 in a double-overtime title game thriller at West Bloomfield High School to win the Chy Cup.

It’s believed to be the first double OT championship game in league history. For Samona, 31, it was his first league title as a player-coach. The wide receiver and cornerback is 4-3 in league championship games in his 11 years in the league.

The Green and Blue teams were tied 13-13 going into overtime.

Each team has a chance to score from the 10-yard line in overtime, and neither the Green nor Blue team scored in the first overtime.

The Green team had the ball first in the second overtime, and scored on its first play on a pass from Shango to Brandon Nafso. On the Blue team’s third-down play, the Green team’s Mazen Jaddou intercepted a pass in the end zone to end the game.

Samona said he’s found coaching to be harder than it looks because of decisions that need to be made each week setting lineups and dealing with players’ personalities.

“I’ve gained a tremendous amount of respect for the guys who have coached in the league for a long time,” he said.

League teams are formed in a three-year rotation, with a draft of all players held every three years. In the other years, each team can protect three players. The next full draft will be in 2019.