Peewee football team goes 11-0, doesn’t give up a point
By Erin Gallagher Correspondent November 18, 2012 5:26PM
New Lenox Junior Warriors. Supplied photo
Updated: December 20, 2012 6:14AM
For a football team to win a championship is a major accomplishment by any standard — but one local team did so without giving up a single point all season.
The New Lenox Junior Warriors, consisting mostly of 9- and 10-year-olds, went 11-0 without even giving up a field goal.
“What was accomplished this year was a once in a lifetime situation,” said assistant coach Ray Tuminello, who also is a village trustee.
Looking past the statistical anomalies, the true heart of the success, the boys say, is the lesson they learned about being a team. Starting center and defensive end Gabe Cole, 10, had to overcome a broken ankle last year. He said his teammates were supportive.
“They helped me on plays were I didn’t understand,” Cole said. “They encouraged me.”
Caleb Marconi, 11, plays running back. He said one of the most important moments of his life came from his best friend and teammate, Brett Carberry, 10. It was overtime in the championship game and the score tied, 0-0.
River Valley Youth Football League rules start at the 10-yard line, giving four plays to each team to get to the end zone. Carberry was playing guard. Huddled up, Marconi was nervous. Carberry told Marconi to run the ball past him. That play scored the winning touchdown.
“Me and (Carberry) hang out, we’re best friends, and for him to say he would make the hole then to hold the trophy in my fist with my teammates,” he said. “I am never going to forget that moment.”
Quarterback Conner McWilliams, 11, said he didn’t get special treatment because of the position he played.
“I feel like I’m just one of the team and everyone’s equal,” he said. “Pretty much everyone’s the same on our team.”
Defensive coordinator Matt Soraghan said this team has the hardest working kids he’s ever coached. They have a tremendous amount of talent.
“The real story has a lot to do with the head coach, but overall without a doubt, it’s the kids,” he said.
Head coach Phil Pfeifer had each player sign a contract before the season started. He also has a different mantra each year. This year was, “I will not let you down.”
Every day they repeated the mantra to their parents, coaches and other players.
“Young athletes are impressionable, I think it’s more about becoming responsible and to educate them,” Pfeifer said. “I believe the children are taking away that if you work hard and commit to a goal that you can achieve it. Sometimes it’s not about the end results, it’s about the journey you’ve taken.”
Several of the players said that the coaches made them feel like they were the only kids on the team, giving special attention to everyone. Marconi, who has asthma, said his coaches kept a close eye on his breathing. In addition to Pfeifer, Soraghan and Tuminello, the other coaches included offensive coordinator Rick Pedigo, Bill Dozier, Brent LaRue, Rich LaCien, Dean Rudsinski and Brian Watta.
“The really good thing about this season was (the coaches) put everything aside and made it fun for our teammates,” Marconi said. “It seemed like real teamwork.”