The Portsmouth Warriors concluded their 2015 season months ago, but their mission is far from complete.
After compiling a 13-1 record — the lone loss coming on a last second field goal to the West Virginia Lighting in week eight — Portsmouth is one victory away from hoisting a national championship.
On Saturday, the second ranked Warriors will face the No. 1 Toledo Thunder in the 2015 AA Semi-Pro National Championship Game in DeLand, Florida.
“The Thunder are a very talented team and extremely athletic,” Warriors head coach Jamie Rice said. “They seem to be well coached and a very solid organization. We have had a solid few weeks of practice and I believe that we are focused as a team.
“We have been working for this chance to play in the national championship for six years that included lots of lopsided losses in those early years. I am proud of this year’s team in being resilient and never shying away from big moments in big games.”
According to National Football News, teams from the same state have not played in the championship game in the last 22 years.
“It honestly has not fully hit me yet,” Warriors team owner Ricky Witt said. “I know it wont until that national anthem starts playing on Saturday. This is truly a dream come true, and I appreciate the very hard word and dedication from my staff and players, I’ve watched these guys grind for this day in and day out and they deserve this opportunity.”
The Thunder are the No. 1 team in the country after finishing with a perfect 12-0 record. Anyone interested in listening to the game can find the broadcast on www.portsmouthwarriors.com. The game will begin at noon.
As far as team captains are concerned, Witt resorted back to the early days of his team’s foundation.
“I will never forget how we started six years ago, from nothing — a group of guys who met once a week at Wurtland Middle School Ky. for practice and just wanted to be good enough to compete at the minor league level — and now the No. 2 ranked team in the entire country and playing for a national championship,” Witt said.
“I have chosen the captains for this game and it is the guys who were there six years ago with me when we were getting beat 48-0 and never gave up and has truly earned this and those guys are Jamie Rice, (offensive line) Coach Tim Aldridge, (defensive tackle) Steve Lee, (defensive tackle) Mike Vermillion, Kicker Mark Dheel, (wide receiver) Chris Stamper and (quarterback) Justin Lunsford.”