The accolades just kept coming for Horseshoe Bend’s youngsters last week as they took on their final weekend of youth football and cheerleading competition.
The stars of the show were the 8- and 9-year-olds who brought home the small school championship and also collected the national championship for their age group with a 24-0 victory over Clay Central.
“These kids were so excited,” Horseshoe Bend 8-9 coach Tim Jones said. “This is something that’s never been done in the history of the Horseshoe Bend youth football league.”
The young Generals absolutely dominated the Volunteers, earning a 24-0 in the final game. Aaden Jones, Aiden Ayers and Kohen Giddens all scored for HBS and the defense did more than enough to secure the victory.
“Our defensive coaches and players read every offensive play that they tried on us and we shut down their offense completely,” Jones said. “We did a lot of running plays and a lot of jet sweeps. We had very few passes because the running game has been really sufficient for us.”
Jones was helped along by assistant coaches Mitch Morgan, Eric Cassiano, Jimmy Ayers and Michael Lovelady, to whom he credits a lot of his success. As vice president of the league, Jones was thrown into the coaching world and said he couldn’t have done it without his assistants.
“I knew for myself I didn’t have any experience,” Jones said. “I knew I had to surround myself with some assistant coaches that had a lot of experience and that’s what I’ve done. The main thing that’s made us successful is teamwork. From the players and the coaches to the parents, the board, everybody has really, really stepped up and made this league successful.”
The 8-9 group wasn’t the only one to take home a trophy this year either as the 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds also won their small school championship for their age group by posting a 28-0 shutout of Wadley. Bentley Glassburn scored twice while Parker White and Hudson Smith each had a touchdown.
“We overcame a lot of adversity this year,” Generals 5-6-7 coach Brian Walker said. “At the beginning of the season we really weren’t looking that good but these kids came together and played like a team and started winning games.”
Walker said like their older counterparts, the 5-6-7 group played strong defense throughout the season and that really helped keep the Generals in games. Despite have only seven returners and a slew of complete newcomers to football, Horseshoe Bend still climbed to the top. Standouts for the defense included Gunnar Walker, Karson Smith, Trent Pressley, White and Glassburn.
“The future (for HBS) is bright,” coach Walker said. “These kids are eager to learn. At first the new guys were a little scared because of getting hit but as soon as we put the pads on and they finally go that first contact, we really came to win. The future is bright at Horseshoe Bend, and I can’t wait for these guys to get on the big field to show what they can do.”
Walker’s assistant coaches were Bryan Pressley, Jeremy White and Matt Taunton.
The ladies also got some glory as the Horseshoe Bend Youth Cheerleading Silver Squad also brought home the gold. Led by coaches Kayla Simpson, Michel Bryan and Courtnie Moncrief as well as league vice president of cheer Sheila Ray, the cheerleaders had three to four practices over the last month to try to ensure a victory.
Also earning an individual recognition was Allie Bridges, who took first place in jump offs for the silver division out of 18 girls.