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Lancaster Central School District

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District News

Lancaster’s flag football team huddles together prior to their game against Niagara Wheatfield on May 9, 2024.
Members of Lancaster’s flag football team pose for a photo prior to their game against Niagara Wheatfield on May 9, 2024.
Senior wide receiver Caroline Helenbrook attempts to avoid her flag being pulled by Niagara Wheatfield defenders on May 9, 2024.
Senior Maddie Klock runs from defenders from Niagara Wheatfield during their game on May 9, 2024.
Senior quarterback Julia Benham drops back for a pass while playing against Niagara Wheatfield on May 9, 2024.
Lancaster’s First-Ever Flag Football Team Embraces Opportunity

The girls flag football team is breaking new ground and having some fun as they have taken part in their first season for the Lancaster Central School District. 

“I looked at it as an opportunity to make history with my friends,” said Caroline Helenbrook, a senior who plays wide receiver and cornerback. “It was awesome to see such an interest.”

The team was one of two, along with unified bowling, that began play in the 2023-24 school year after support from the district’s voters. The new team, which included 24 players, comes as flag football has grown enough for New York to hold its first-ever state championship in the sport this season. 

“We’re starting a tradition from the ground up,” said Donald Hauser, a manufacturing & engineering technology education teacher at Lancaster Middle School who serves as the team’s head coach.

Hauser came into the role after years coaching football and track at the modified level, and said it’s been an exciting learning process for him and his fellow coaches to learn and teach the intricacies of the game. Among them: Fields are divided into 20 yards zones, with teams required to advance to the next zone to gain a first down. Offensive blocking is contact-free, and defenders are required to go around blockers. Touchdowns are followed by an extra-point play of varying values based on distance from the goal line. 

“The pace of the game is a lot faster than people think,” Hauser said. “You’re really moving.”

For players on the team, the game is a chance to connect to a game that they’ve watched for years between school teams and the hometown Buffalo Bills.

“It’s taken some adjustment, but there’s a great connection,” Caroline said. “We really can model everything we see and everything we watch.”

Julia Benham, a senior who plays quarterback and linebacker, said her father coached and her brother played football, and the three have been able to talk strategy together through the season.

“To play a sport we all love has built a stronger relationship between us,” Julia said. 

Hauser said the sport has attracted athletes from sports like track and field, swimming, basketball and field hockey. For Emelia Surdej, a freshman who plays wide receiver and linebacker, the team was her first school sport at Lancaster High School. She said she had wanted to play football for years prior to the team’s existence.

“It’s a big deal,” Emelia said. “The picture’s going to go up for the first flag football team in school history, and I can say I was on that first team.”

The Lancaster Central School District offers 37 different sports and 79 total teams, and the district’s teams received the 2023-24 NFHS Award of Excellence for Exemplary Display of Sportsmanship, Ethics & Integrity. More information about the Athletic Department can be found at

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