Daily Californian brawls to 4th-straight Ink Bowl title

Karen Chow/Courtesy

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Flag football does not constitute violence. Even in the iterations of the game which include full-contact blocking, the contact itself is docile — a means of quarterback protection. 

But rivalry? Welp, sometimes rules just can’t contain that tension.

Welcome to the Ink Bowl, an annual flag football game the Stanford Daily and The Daily Californian have played on the same day as the Big Game since at least the 1960s.

It has a long and illustrious tradition, but I must say, I don’t think many other Ink Bowls got off to such a fiery start as this year’s. 

Extremely unnecessary and dangerous plays from a particular Stanford Daily player caused injury and tension. The game jolted to a rough start after multiple stoppages and confrontations, and ejections were inevitable as tempers boiled over and Daily Cal players leapt into the fray to keep their teammates safe.

Both incidences literally drew Cal blood, causing brawls as both teams rushed onto the field. Stanford’s safety-quarterback was ejected from the game in the middle of the first half after injuring multiple players, as was one of The Daily Cal linemen who got involved in the resulting confrontation.

After two targeting incidents, The Daily Cal’s blood was boiling. There was no way the Stanford Daily would be allowed to even come close to smelling victory — and its players gave no quarter.

Chase McCleary, an assistant development manager at The Daily Cal, led the way as quarterback, rushing for an unrecorded number of yards (likely more than 400) and tossing for even more — initial estimates project approximately 900.

But the team effort cannot be understated. Former Daily Cal assistant sports editor Can Sariöz was a powerhouse at center, providing McCleary ample opportunity to get passes off throughout the game while still receiving a touchdown of his own.

Former assistant sports editor Jack Whaley was an absolute flag-ripper downfield, and terrorized the Stanford Daily for an unknown number of sacks, as our definitely-present statisticians were unable to keep up with Whaley’s epic defense. Even my fellow deputy sports editor Michael Brust, who entered for just two plays, dealt one of the most devastating stiff arms in Ink Bowl history. 

All of the above helped The Daily Cal cruise to a 35-7 victory on the road at Wilbur Field — despite a bumpy and  contested outset. With the triumph, The Daily Cal notched its fourth-straight Ink Bowl title, claiming the plaque before speeding to an easy win in the following boat race. 

Although tensions ran high in the early portion of the game, the Stanford Daily was apologetic and kind, especially following the aforementioned ejections. What began as an unexpectedly fierce competition between two newspapers’ flag football teams turned into a sunny, relaxing Saturday on a (ridiculously) manicured lawn. 

We posed for pictures of our teams together — minus the Stanford eject, who left early on his own accord — but in the end, just one team was photographed holding the coveted X-Acto knife plaque endowed to victors of the Ink Bowl. 


Regardless of the extracurriculars that started the game, though, the camaraderie expressed by the rest of those in attendance that day was nothing short of commendable. After the ejections took place, the dangerous play subsided and both teams returned to what really mattered: The Daily Cal beasting up at flag football.

In the words of former sports editor Justice delos Santos, which he coined after the 2018 Ink Bowl matchup and repeated again after this year’s game, “Without Cal, there is no Stanford, and without Stanford, there is no Cal.” The rivalry with this one was certainly strong, and the sentiment holds true.

And at the end of the day, everyone at the Stanford Daily knows how the game’s final scoreboard looked — and they know their drought continues. 

4 years and counting. 

Ethan Waters is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].