The Super Bowl came a little early this year.
On Saturday at Trojan Coliseum, youngsters took to the turf field for trophies and bragging rights. The Minford Falcons and Portsmouth West Senators played the third and fourth grade game, while the Senators fifth and sixth grade team outlasted the Portsmouth Trojans 28-8.
“It feels great, it’s wonderful. I’m actually more excited and happy for them,” Senators coach Sam Windsor said. “This is a group of kids, most of them that have been together for the last three or four years.”
“They’ve worked really hard, they’re a great group of kids that have a lot of heart. They’ve played a lot of football games, and this is a great way to cap off their peewee career.”
West’s Jase Hurd, younger brother of Senators junior Garrett Hurd, scored two touchdowns for the West in the win.
The scoring started in the contest from the Trojans, when Devon Lattimore scored from three yards out on a quarterback keeper as the first quarter ended. The two point conversion was good on a pass, and a quarter in Portsmouth led West 8-0.
Hurd would put the Senators on the board with 1:51 remaining before the break on a four yard touchdown run. Ethan Pruneda tied the game at eight with his run on a two point conversion.
Notched at eight apiece, the play of the game occurred right before halftime. With just seconds remaining, West had 35 yards to go to get a score, and used a little trickery to get it.
A halfback pass found the hands of Jeffrey Bishop, who caught the ball over several Trojans. Amidst the confusion, Bishop broke loose and scored as the first half clock expired. The two point conversion failed, but the Senators had a 14-8 lead at halftime and a lot of momentum.
West came out of the break clicking, forcing a three and out right off the bat on defense. The Senators compiled a strong drive, pounding out yards on the ground to get Hurd in the endzone from five yards out with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Hurd would also push for a two point conversion dash, giving West a 22-8 lead late.
Then, the defense shined for the Senators.
Cole Tipton intercepted a pass on a great defensive effort, giving the ball back to West.
On the first play after the change of possession, the Senators struck with a play action pass to Pruneda. Just short of scoring, Pruneda hauled in a 59 yard gain to put West back in scoring position all the way to the Portsmouth eight yard line.
Cole Windsor would score on a three yard run from his fullback spot to take a 28-8 lead, as the two point conversion attempt failed. That score was the last of the game, and propelled the Senators to a Super Bowl win.
Although it wasn’t under the lights of a Friday night atmosphere, there was still a large crowd gathered in the visitor’s stands at Trojan Coliseum. Nearly every seat was full, and it was clear to see that this game was important to not only both teams, but both communities as well.
“It means a lot, being from the west side,” Windsor said. “I was born and raised there, I grew up there, and all these kids are from there.”
“Football has took its hits lately for being a sport that a lot of kids’ parents don’t want them to participate in, but you can tell by the people that are here today it’s still a fan favorite. We love football on the west side, and I’m so happy for these boys.”
Both coaches will tell you that football has taught these kids a lot about not only the game, but life itself.
“I stay on them about thinking before they make any type of moves,” Portsmouth head coach Mikey Newman said. “They’ve got to think before they react on something, and not a lot of people get a second chance. I was blessed with a second chance, I messed up in my life before and was blessed with a second chance, and this is what I chose to do with my life.”
It was evident that both coaching staffs cared a lot about the kids from both sidelines. Newman traveled to a huddle of celebrating West players to congratulate them on their efforts and encourage them for the future.
Even more so, though, the coaches care about their own players as could be expected.
“They mean everything in the world to me … they’ve done everything I’ve ever asked them to do,” Windsor said. “Their parents have been supportive of everything we’ve done with them, and they’ve allowed them to be coached and their kids are coachable kids.”
Newman expressed the same sentiment.
“It goes beyond football with me and these kids,” Newman said. “I stay at their parent-teacher conferences, their teachers call me when they’re having issues so I can go to the school and deal with these kids. They know it’s beyond football, and I try to teach these kids more about life experiences.”
“They’re a good group of kids, and I love them with all my heart. I wear my heart on my sleeve with them.”
In preparing the kids for middle school and beyond, both high schools look to have bright futures on Friday nights in the years to come with two groups of kids who have been coachable throughout their young careers.
“We just want them to stay coachable,” Windsor said. “As long as they stay coachable they’ll be fine, they’ve got the talent, they’ve got the ability, they’ve just got to be willing to do what their coach wants them to do and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
In fact, Newman’s group is already practicing for those future Friday night battles.
“From our high school down, before this even started, Coach Aaron Duncan got with me and my coaching staff and told us he wanted us to implement plays,” Newman said. “These kids could jump straight from right now to the high school level and know what they were doing.”
“We’ve noticed that other schools that are doing it that way are tough on the football field and hard to beat, and it’s because they put stuff from high school all the way down to their peewee level. Then, coming up to the next level, it’s not relearning it, it’s just like muscle memory. They’re going to hear it and know exactly what to do, then they can perfect their craft.”
One prime example: the Wheelersburg Pirates, who are the only remaining Scioto County team in the high school football playoffs this season.
“Wheelersburg alone speaks numbers,” Newman said. “I know that’s one of our rivals and has been for a long time, but it speaks for itself. They’ve put stuff in their peewee level that their high school does up there, so that way when they get up to that level they already know it.”
While players prepare for their football futures, they also are getting ready for the challenges of the football field they’ll be faced with.
“I know my boys are down right now, but like I told them it’s a life lesson,” Newman said. “We’ve got to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Now they know what it feels like to hurt, and I doubt it’s going to happen again.”
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU