The undefeated Seattle team was upset in the first round of playoffs last year and is eager to start a championship run today.
Their dreams of winning a national championship vanished early last season.
And that continues to be a driving force as the Seattle Majestics women’s tackle football team enters the playoffs at 3 p.m. today against the Corvallis Pride at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
After winning the Pacific Northwest Division of the Independent Women’s Football League last year with an 8-0 record, a depleted Seattle squad was upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Sacramento Sirens, 29-12. Although Seattle started the season with 27 players, ages 22 to 40, the Majestics went into the game with 18 active players compared with Sacramento’s 45.
“We just weren’t physically able to get the job done,” said Camille Head, a starting wide receiver who bought the team last year along with fellow players Heather Gallemore and Michel Volk.
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She said that loss has been a motivating factor this season, especially against the Sirens.
“We came out with a vengeance and beat them twice in the regular season,” Head said.
The Majestics, now 38 players strong, also have beaten Corvallis twice this year, most recently 16-7 in their last regular-season game on June 14 as they improved to 8-0 again and clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs. They blanked the Pride 25-0 earlier in the year to start a string of four shutouts. Seattle has allowed only 27 points in eight games.
“We’re not the biggest team on the block, but we definitely hit hard,” said Head, also a backup free safety.
Gallemore, a defensive end who is the team’s veteran player in her seventh season, leads the league in sacks with 17. This season, rookies outnumber the veterans, 25-13. Kam Warner, former UW track star who was the team’s top rusher last year, has taken this season off to focus on her family but hopes to return next year, according to Head. Rachel Gore has stepped in at running back and also helps key the defense at cornerback.
In addition to the influx of new players, Seattle also has a fresh coaching staff this season, led by Mike Talley. Talley previously coached youth football and also was an assistant at Hazen High School in Renton. He said he was invited to an informal practice last November by assistant Ken Sanford.
“I can’t keep my mouth shut,” said Talley, who is a customer-service supervisor with Regence Blue Shield. “Slowly but surely, I got more and more into it and by mid-December I decided, ‘What the heck, it’s something I haven’t done before.’ “
Talley said the Majestics aren’t taking Corvallis lightly.
“This starts a whole new season,” he said.
A win today would vault them into the Western Conference championship game July 12 at Seattle Memorial Stadium against the Dallas Diamonds or California Quake, which also plays a first-round game today. The winner plays the Eastern Conference champ for the national title in Chicago.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org