Sophomore Aztecs head to Super Bowl
BARSTOW • After an undefeated season, the Sophomore Aztecs have one more win to go.
The Sophomores, Barstow’s 10-11-12 year-olds team in High Desert Youth Football and Cheer, played to an 8-0 record in the regular season. That was followed by two playoff wins, a 56-0 drubbling of Serrano two weeks ago, and last Saturday’s 24-7 victory over Adelanto.
That leaves just one more hurdle on the way to a league championship: this Saturday’s Super Bowl game against Apple Valley.
Head coach Nathaniel Stone thinks his players are as ready as they’ll ever be for the big game. He’s had a feeling since the season started that it was going to be a good one.
“I believe it’s our time. It’s been a long wait and long overdue,” the coach said as the team practiced on Wednesday night. “We have a good staff, I have good coaches around me, and I honestly feel like this is the year.”
He gives his players a lot of credit. Their perseverance and coachability has gone a long way toward building an unbeaten season.
“Winning starts with good coaching, but in the end it all comes down to the kids. We’ve had over 50 practices this year and at every one our guys have gotten a little better,” said Stone. “The kids prepare every day. No matter what we throw at them, they’re ready for it.”
The team seemed pumped and ready Wednesday night. The players talked about how special the season has been and how they intend to get that one last win.
Starting tight end Chase Millizer thinks team chemistry has been an important factor in winning. He certainly didn’t expect an undefeated season, but began considering it when the team just kept winning.
“We have a good coaching staff and a team that plays together like a family,” said Millizer. “I didn’t expect to go undefeated, but when we won our first four games, I started thinking, ‘We might have this’.”
“Since our first practice I knew this was a good team and I knew we’d play hard,” said starting quarterback Joshua Mendoza. “It just kept getting more exciting, and I want it to keep on going. We just kept on, and will keep pushing forward.”
Middle linebacker Angelo Silva thinks that hard-work mentality also played a huge part in the success.
“We all work hard, we focus on the game and don’t mess around,” he said. “We play hard and don’t get too cocky.”
“We did real well during practices and I thought we’d go pretty far,” said tackle Jace Henry. “I wasn’t thinking about being undefeated; I didn’t want to think too far ahead.”
“These kids never get down,” said coach Stone. “We were trailing in one game 6-0 at halftime, and came back to win, 50-6. There’s no quit in these guys.”
It’s also been a good year for Barstow Youth Football and Cheer. There’s some money in the budget, and it will be spent on new gear and uniforms, according to Don Depue, the league commissioner.
“We buy new gear all the time, especially helmets, but we’ll be mixing it up a little with the uniforms. We’ll have white jerseys and yellow pants with integrated pads,” he said. “Barstow has always been good to us financially, but we work our butts off to raise a lot of our own money, too.”
It’s all resulted in a chance for a perfect season and a Super Bowl championship. It would be the first title for coach Stone, and it’s now within reach.
“Before the season started I was telling my coaches, this is our year. We finally have the chance to make it come true,” he said. “We want it bad, the players, the coaches, the parents. It will be hard to stop us from reaching our goal.”
Like for last week’s game, this Saturday the team will take off from the Barstow Park & Ride at 8 a.m., and anyone wanting to be part of the caravan to Antelope Valley High School is welcome. The game begins at noon.
“We invite everyone to come out and support us,” said Stone. “The support we’ve gotten from the town so far has been tremendous.”
In the meantime, the players anxiously await their shot at the title.
“I’m going to celebrate if we win, maybe have a party at my house,” said Silva. “I can’t wait for Saturday.”