Two area teams are headed south for the American Youth Football National Tournament scheduled from Dec. 7-15 in Orlando, Fla.
The Tiny Rams (8th Grade Unlimited) and Kernersville Raiders (Cadet) earned their berths to the nationals by posting victories in the finals of the Division I AYF Atlantic Regional Championships played last weekend in Virginia Beach, Va. These teams qualified to play in the regional competition by winning AYF state titles a week earlier. Here’s a game summary by division:
8th Grade Unlimited: The passing game was nowhere to be found, so the Winston-Salem Tiny Rams relied on their bruising ground attack, which produced a 12-0 regional championship victory over the Manassas Mutiny (Va.).
Rams running back Marcus Caldwell scored on a 30-yard run and Emmanuel Lewis added a five-yard touchdown run in the second half to close out the scoring.
The Mutiny was never able to establish any offensive consistency. On two occasions, Manassas got inside the Rams’ 20-yard line, but came up empty each time. Linebacker Adonis Jones and safety Mekhi Dunlap both had interceptions to key Winston-Salem’s defense.
In the semifinals, the Rams went on cruise control in a 35-0 shut-out of the Upper Marlboro Mustangs (Md.). Rorie Braxton ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass. Anthony Hicks scored on a short run and threw a pair of touchdown passes. Mahlik Garnes caught a scoring pass and Jones scored on a one-yard run.
Cadet: The Kernersville Raiders’ crunching ground game paved the way for a 32-7 win over the Prince George County Chargers (Va.). The Raiders bolted to a 26-0 lead at the half and never looked back.
Jamison Warren and Isaac Sutton ran for two touchdowns apiece to lead the way. Raneirra Dillworth and Caden Davis also had touchdown runs for the Raiders. Defensively, Kernersville held Prince George scoreless until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Brandon Johnson, Karson Rowley and Arrington Jones spearheaded the Raiders’ pass defense.
Kernersville earned its ticket to the title game with a 19-6 victory over the Dulles Patriots (Va.) in the semifinals. The Raiders trailed 6-0 at the half, but took control in the second half by scoring 19 unanswered points. Dillworth, Sutton and Warren scored on touchdown runs.
Junior Midgets: Four turnovers in the red zone doomed the Winston-Salem Tiny Rams in a 15-14 loss to Falmoth Tide (Va.) in the semifinals.
The Rams went up 8-0 when Khalid Martin took the opening kickoff and raced 65 yards for a touchdown and Drel Timmons kicked the extra point. Falmoth Tide rallied to score twice and led 15-8 at the end of the third quarter.
Timmons caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Stephon Brown to narrow the deficit to 15-14 in the fourth quarter. The Rams went for the win by attempting a conversion kick which is worth two points, but the kick was blocked.
A few minutes later, Timmons had a 55-yard punt return to put the Rams in scoring position at Falmoth Tide’s 25-yard line. But all hopes for a title victory vanished when Falmouth Tide intercepted to nullify the Rams threat. On defense, the Rams were led by Jalen Maxie, who had two interceptions, one of which ended a scoring drive near the goal line.
In another Junior Midgets semifinal game, the Winston-Salem Tiny Indians lost 27-8 to the WD Wildcats (Md.).
Cheerleading: The Tiny Indians will send two of its cheerleader teams to the AYF national competition in Florida in two weeks. The Pee Wee and 8th Grade Unlimited teams both won first place in their respective divisions. The Tiny Indians Unlimited squad was also voted the “Best New Group in AYF.”