For the second season in a row, Fairview High School head football coach Chris Hughes has guided his flag football team into the money rounds of the American Flag Football League.
The league had more than 500 submissions for teams this season and out of the 128 that were selected, Hughes’ Mean Machine is one of 16 still playing for a $200,000 prize, with the championship set for June 16 in New Jersey.
“God is good,” said Hughes, 51. “I’m just blessed, and if somebody doesn’t believe in God, they need to look at the Chris Hughes story. I have the wife I don’t deserve, kids that are awesome, I coach high school with the best kids around. I tell you, it’s just awesome. God is good.”
The Fairview High head coach became a viral sensation last season while playing quarterback for the Mean Machine, which eventually reached the championship quarterfinals of the league’s first tournament. Hughes and the Mean Machine rallied to win the regional in Nashville last at the same time as NFL draft weekend, beating Quick Strike 20-19 at Vanderbilt. They opened with a 33-12 win and hung on for a 22-20 victory against Comma to the Top in the semifinals.
The team is loaded, with Hughes’ crafty play-making ability as a veteran flag football player at the center of things. The Mean Machine boasts great speed in explosive receivers such as Jerodis Williams and Jeremy Stephens. Michael Green has emerged as an electric playmaker, while David Acklis and Nigel Jordan are two of the best flag-pullers on defense. Hughes also said Connor Hower has played a big role as another QB and bail-out option when Hughes gets blitzed.
“We all have that kid inside of us, and it’s never too late to go out and have fun,” Hughes said, adding that he hopes to mirror one of his big games at the New York Jets training facility when the Mean Machine takes the field in two weeks.
Hughes has showcased some of his best games in the late rounds. One of his top performances included completing 27 of 29 passes for 350 yards and five touchdowns in last season’s tournament.
“We’re excited to get back out there,” he said.
Hughes says he was too small to play football in high school, but after growing slightly in college — and breaking the 100-pound mark — he began pursuing the game. He said he’s played for more than 30 years.
“We have so many leagues now to be involved with, and it’s just a load of fun to be able to do this,” he said. “You know, in a way, tackle football is turning more and more into flag football. I see it changing a lot as a coach.”
Hughes, a Fairview High graduate, is entering his 11th season as the Yellow Jackets head coach. He will lead Fairview in 7-on-7 summer football action this week while still prepping for the big weekend tournament, which will begin June 14. He’s also coaching his son’s 6-and-under team, which is 17-0 so far this season.
One could say it’s busy in the Hughes home.
“It’s like I told my wife, that’s how we know we’re living,” Hughes said with a laugh.
To find out more about the league, see tournament results and more, visit www.affl.com.