Maricopa County came away victorious on April 29 in the 12th annual Arizona Law Enforcement and Outreach and Support Battle of the Badges Hope charity flag football game hosted at Mesa Community College.
AZLEOS coordinated the charity game which benefits officers injured in the line of duty.
This year, Gilbert Police Officer Rico Aranda and Scottsdale Police Sergeant Scott Galibrath were honorary captains of the game.
Aranda was involved in an incident during a police pursuit in April of 2022 that left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Galbraith was shot in Jan. of 2022 while serving a warrant in downtown Phoenix.
For Maricopa County player Tyler Rolnick, the game is more than just that, it is a way for the community to connect with first responders on a personal level, and to help those in his line of work who are injured.
“It’s always a great feeling, I got in the first responder field for a reason,” said Rolnick on how it felt to be a part of Battle of the Bages, “I wanted to try and help other people, coming out here doing stuff like this or even the shop with a cop event they have every year. I just love coming out and helping the community.”
The game is not just about what is happening on the field, it’s about showing the community that even though these people are usually in uniform and are meant to protect and serve the public, they are humans just like anyone else.
The event also had police engagement displays for people to see what is used on a daily basis as an officer, as well as 50/50 raffles and food trucks.
Scholarships were awarded to Natsuki Saballos, Hailey Bartlett, and Caleesa Morgan during halftime. These scholarships funded by Palo Verde Republican Women, AZCOPS, and MCC Administration of Justice studies were given to students pursuing a degree in becoming a first responder.
The game was a rollercoaster ride as Maricopa County got off to an early 12 point lead.
Pinal County would come back before halftime to cut the lead to just six, as they would find the endzone before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Once the second half began, Pinal would score on their opening drive to tie the score at 12 each.
Maricopa would answer with a touchdown and two point conversion, just to have Pinal answer with six points of their own.
However, Pinal was unable to convert on the two point try as the snap was fumbled, and the quarterback downed.
Maricopa would score with ease, as they increased the margin to 18-26.
With the clock winding down, Pinal would come up with the score they needed, but again were unable to convert the two point try to tie the game.
Maricopa would maintain possession until the final horn sounded to win for the third straight time over Pinal, 24-26.