Youth football team wins state title

Youth football team wins state title
December 02
14:11 2020

The 13U Tiny Indians have won the North Carolina State Championship and are headed down to Bradenton, Fla., to play in the AYF National Tournament at IMG Academy starting Dec. 7.

The Tiny Indians finished the regular season with a 7-1 record and head coach James Drayton has high hopes for his team in Florida. With this being his first season at the helm as head coach, Drayton knew he had a good team that had a shot at winning it all.

“Coming into this 13U season, it was a lot of excitement and expectations,” Drayton said.

Drayton came over from the Triad Elite Ducks prior to taking over with the Indians. He merged his team from Greensboro with some local athletes to bring his team together. Last season with the Ducks, he won the city, state and regional championship, eventually finishing third at AYF nationals.

Drayton had several teams that were interested in his services, but chose the Indians based on their tradition and the fact it seemed like the “perfect fit,” he said.  

“It had to be an organization that made sense and pretty much already had a buzz, so it wasn’t like we were starting all the way over,” he said. “People still kind of knew this was the 12U team, so it was easier to navigate going to the Indians than if I went anywhere else.”

The 13U team kept most of their players from last year’s championship team. Drayton and his staff added the additional pieces needed to make another run at the national championship.

“Any time you come in off of a championship season, you’re always going to get pretty much the pick of the kids that you want to add on to it,” he said about his team. “This is kind of how we built it. My first team, it was straight start up and through winning we were able to build it.

“We were able to come together and have a season and were able to add some talent to what we already had. Once we came into the season, we really started putting it together. We always knew we had something special, but we really felt we had enough pieces brought in that was going to help us compete strongly at the national level.”

The Indians rolled through the regular season, with their only loss coming to the Number One team in the nation, Rare Breed. For the state championship game, Drayton was confident in his team’s ability to win.

“As a coach, you never want to be too overconfident. You always want to make sure you have all the bases covered,” said Drayton.  

The Indians faced off against the Elite Kids out of Charlotte in the championship game. Drayton stated it was a hard-fought game that the Indians won by the score of 12-0.

“When you have a team that has been through winning two cities, two states, and been through the grind of a regional tournament to win it and also place nationally, you have to defend against being complacent or too overconfident going into the game,” he continued. That was really more what I was thinking about, them not being too confident and taking them lightly, and that we can still come in and play our game.”

Drayton says he was happy to win the game, but was happier to win it for the kids that have never won a title. Now he has to quickly turn his focus to the national tournament in Florida and get his guys prepared to play the best the nation has to offer.

“These guys are excited for it and I think when we played Rare Breed, it was really a taste of what we are going to see when we go down there,” he said. “Even as a coaching staff it was a learning experience, because those games are going to be long and physical.”

Drayton says win or lose, he is proud of what his team has accomplished this year. He feels it would be great to send his players off to the next level with a national championship.

“I am really proud of these guys and we have some veterans that have been with me from the beginning,” he stated.  “For me, I am proud of them because they could have gone to another team and get all the carries and catches, but they come here to buy into the team to win the championship.

“I think at this point those kids are like we have all the individual accolades, now we want some hardware, we want to have some history behind this work.  Seeing them happy that is the most proud thing for me.  I have played and had my time, now it’s about them.”

Drayton says he could not have done this by himself and wanted to give a special thank you to his coaching staff; Coach Hackett, Coach Cornwell, Coach RJ, Coach Cliff, Coach Little, Coach Rio and Coach Dre.  He also wanted to give a big thank you to the team mom Sherry Newkirk for holding things together with the kids.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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