It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.
That’s an old maxim that’s very fitting for the Winston-Salem Tiny Indians, a Cadets Division team of the Piedmont Youth Football & Cheer League.
At the start of the season, injuries caused the Indians to struggle and they had only one win to show in their first four games.
In spite of the sluggish start, Coach Fred Brown’s team regrouped and in the process, put together an impressive eight-game win streak. The Indians (9-3) are the American Youth Football Division II state champions and will continue postseason play at the national tournament Dec. 7–15 in Orlando, Fla.
“For this team for this season it’s about unity,” said Brown. “It’s about how everything came together for us.”
In the fourth quarter of their season-opening 18-6 victory over the Greensboro Giants, the Indians had injuries to some of its key players. Over the next three weeks, the Indians suffered losses to the Forsyth County Broncos, Pfafftown Packers and Kernersville Raiders.
“Those injuries set us back a little bit,” Brown said. “And it took some time for everybody to get adjusted and get back on track.”
The Indians ended their losing skid with a homecoming victory over the Durham Titans. A rematch victory over the Raiders, 12-6 in five overtimes, followed. The Raiders, who ended up winning Division I league and AYF Atlantic Regional titles, also earned a trip to the Division I AYF Nationals, which also begin next week in Orlando.
The early-season losing streak proved costly when it came time for seeding for the PYFCL playoffs. The Indians posted a 5-3 regular-season record and finished in a three-way tie with the Broncos and Packers in the division standings.
In the tie-breaker, however, the Indians ended up in fifth place in the eight-team division because of their losses to the Broncos and Packers. As a result, the Indians were slotted in the Division II playoffs for teams that finished in the lower half of their divisions.
The defense has emerged as a dominant factor during the win streak. Over the last eight games, the Indians have allowed only two touchdowns. Malik Aikens and Iyaht Clark are the anchors on the defensive line and they get plenty of help from linebackers Damage Davis and Frederick Brown Jr. Offensively, quarterback Tyrese McIntyre, along with running backs Jaquan Kelly and Amar Aikens, are the key contributors.