LANCASTER • With an 11-0 record, Barstow’s Sophomore Aztecs are finally done for the season. But not before bringing home a league title.
The 10-11-12 year-olds Sophomore team, part of High Desert Youth Football and Cheer, surpassed expectations by turning in an 8-0 regular season. That was followed by three more wins in the playoffs, the latest coming on Saturday. Barstow traveled to Antelope Valley High School to take on Apple Valley in the league Super Bowl, and tacked on one last win, by a 33-12 score, for the championship.
The team got there with its usual combination of hard work and perseverance, according to head coach Nathaniel Stone.
“There was a lot of hard work and dedication shown by these kids,” Stone said at a party to celebrate the championship on Sunday. “Not a lot of kids missed practices, and we practiced in the cold, in the rain, we didn’t stop for anything.”
As was the case often this season, Barstow scored first in the title game. Julius Mason got his team on the board, scoring the first touchdown on a 53-yard run on the game’s second play. Gionni Terrell got the second score, running for 60 yards into the end zone, putting the Sophomores up, 13-0.
Apple Valley got the next touchdown, but 13-6 was as close as they’d get. Terrell put the game out of reach by scoring two more times, and Ramund Woods got the final Barstow TD of the day, off a 23-yard pass from Joshua Mendoza. Mendoza also kicked two extra points, and Mason, one.
The win put the cap on a perfect season, one which Stone never expected, but still thought was possible.
“You always expect to do well, but things happen during a season. You try to get the kids to believe that they can win every game, but usually you don’t,” said the coach.
“The hard work paid off,” said assistant coach Kyle Williams. “As a coach you expect great things, but this is a higher accomplishment than I imagined. Barstow always plays tough football, but this year was extra special.”
“I’m proud of what the kids did. They listened and did what they were supposed to do,” agreed assistant coach John Krieger. “We had the talent and the kids executed, week in and week out. I’m happy to have been a part of this.”
Desire was also part of the equation.
“We wanted it,” said Terrell, whose play had a lot to do with the winning season. This was the second youth football title for Terrell, who had won a championship back when he was eight, before coming to Barstow. “The coaches were good, and we did our job. It was a fun season.” Terrell plans to play on the Juniors team next year.
John “Tex” Williams, president of Barstow Youth Football, also expressed his pride in the Sophomores. Williams more often has the business of running the league on his mind, and toward that end, threw out a few numbers to the players and parents in attendance. It costs the league $225.79 per player per season, $182.94 per cheerleader, and roughly $41,000 per year to run the program.
To help defray costs, Williams runs the sno cone truck that appears at many high school sporting events throughout the year, and has sold 6,000 sno cones. Williams encouraged those attending games to patronize the truck, as “all the money goes back to you, anyway.”
While there was the spirit of celebration at Sunday’s gathering, the head coach of the winning team was a bit quiet about the whole thing. Stone was pleased with what his players accomplished, but wasn’t quite sure how to articulate that.
“I thought I’d be super excited, but the way we played, I feel like we deserved it. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “But I’m happy. No doubt about it.”