Warriors Red B Team wins Super Bowl title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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LAPLACE — The 9- and 10-year-olds on the St. John Warriors Red B Team proved their resiliency time and time again this season, and they have Super Bowl rings to show for it.

The B team emerged victorious in the Southeast Louisiana Football League championship held this past weekend in Clinton, earning an 8-6 win over Hammond for the Super Bowl title.

With approximately 95% of the kids and coaches displaced from their homes after Hurricane Ida, head coach Robert Williams said a return to normalcy was the overarching goal this season. The first few games were cancelled in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Then came the recovery. Football equipment that was drenched in water had to be pulled out of the trash and sanitized so it could be salvaged. Coaches would dispatch like bus drivers to pick up kids for practice, often traveling to St. Rose, Kenner and New Orleans to bring the scattered team back to one location.

“A lot of kids didn’t play last year because of the pandemic, and we didn’t want to let that happen again this year because of the hurricane. We tried our best to give our kids as much as we could,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, the kids were so happy to see their trophy. More than anything, what made me feel good was the camaraderie of the teams outside of the LaPlace area that embraced them. All of the teams reached out and wanted to know if we needed anything.”

When it came time for the championship, the Warriors stayed true to their name and fought with all they had.

Every child on the team played a role in the B team’s success this year.

Quarterback Denham Ellsworth stepped up this year as a leader on the offense. “It’s a really tough job for a kid that age to take on that much responsibility, but he embraced it,” Williams said.

Armani Mitchell, one of the youngest on the team, seamlessly stepped in as a backup quarterback without missing a beat. Williams commended offensive linemen Benjamin Claiborne, Armontae Jackson, Kamar White, Jaycob Bell and Jeremiah Reynaud for never backing down from a challenge. Nathaniel Nicholson Jr. was another force on the offensive line during the championship game.

“Nathaniel is another two-way player. He came within five yards of scoring a very long, 70-yard touchdown,” Williams said. “He had three sacks in this game and caught a long pass.”

Nathaniel’s efforts made it possible for Caleb Williams to score on a 60-yard touchdown and set up a two-point conversion during the Super Bowl. Peyton Taylor, an outstanding offensive and defensive player with great instincts, capitalized on that opportunity and scored the two-point conversion to seal the 8-6 win. Payton also broke up two pass plays to keep Hammond from taking the lead.

Caleb followed up with a sack fumble that was recovered by Dayon Anderson, officially handing the Warriors the Super Bowl title.

Williams commended more players for their resiliency during the game. Bradley Hymes was upset with himself after Hammond scored a touchdown, but he quickly channeled his energy into making all of his tackles and keeping the opponent from catching another pass. Williams said the Super Bowl victory was especially sweet for Brandon Arceneaux, who has been with the Warriors since he was 5 years old.

Also celebrating the win were Warriors Kierrhon Adams, Ean Bailey, Mekhi Marrero, Jamaar Palmer, Kamdin Rogers and Malkendel Wilson.

During the course of the season, Akeem Mitchell Jr. was “virtually unstoppable” at defensive end, while center Michael Scott displaced an incredible unselfishness and flexibility on the field.

“For Akeem to not make one mistake in the last four games is a testament to how hard he worked to be able the snap the ball and block,” Williams said. “He’s the first kid on the team to be selected to All-Stars because he can do it all.”

Receiver Kayson Woodland is another kid who will do anything coaches ask him to, and he did not disappoint in the Super Bowl. The Warriors also rely on Alvin Bates Jr., who Williams referred to as the teams “own version of Randy Moss.”

“There’s nothing you can throw at this kid that he can’t catch. This whole team had to triple cover him just to make sure we couldn’t get another touchdown with this kid because we’ve been throwing the ball to him all season,” Williams said.

Larry Wheeler III was stuck out of state for most of the season, but having him back propelled the team forward with increased versatility. He contributed a lot of tackles in the championship.

Trevor Randell Jr. couldn’t come to the championship, but he was at practice every day making sure the team was in position. He spoke to the team and motivated them to play their hearts out in memory of Ma’Zon Thomas, a 5-year-old St. John Parish football player who passed away on November 11.

The 2021 coaching staff also includes special teams/offensive assistants Lester Mitchell Jr. and Dennis Ellsworth, defensive coordinator Akeem Mitchell Sr., offensive/defensive line coach Orin Taylor and linebacker/defensive backs coach Larry Wheeler Sr.

The Warriors Red B Team appreciates Riverside Academy for allowing the use of their stadium this season.