RIVERSIDE — Pardon the cliche, but the third time really was the charm for the Xenia sixth grade White football team.
After losing in the Gem City Youth Conference championship game as fourth and fifth graders, the Wee Bucs finally won that elusive title — in their last season in GCYC — beating the Huber Heights White team, 8-0, at Stebbins High School Saturday night.
Early in the fourth quarter, Marqus Keller stripped the ball from a Wayne running back and returned it to the 32. On the first play, DeMarco Ruffin followed his blockers, got to the outside, and sprinted down the sideline for a TD with 9:50 left. Jamison Williams passed to Conner Howard for a two-point conversion, which was more then enough for the Bucs, who allowed just two touchdowns all season.
“They were absolutely amazing in going 12-0,” Head Coach Freddie Williams said, trying to hold back excitement and emotion. “Hats off to this coaching staff, to everybody that’s here because we put in a lot of work to get to this point. They watched film. They ran. They did everything they could.”
Everything they could is an understatement.
Starting at Bantam and going through sixth grade, the bulk of the teams and coaches and even cheerleaders stay together, and each year build on what they did the previous season. That made winning the championship even sweeter.
“We made ourselves believe that we have (played) for six years and this was the time that we were going to do it,” Keller said. “You can’t describe (this feeling). It’s so good.”
Kaine Lewis, sporting bloodshot eyes from tears of joy, had a hard time putting his thoughts into words.
“It’s like, you can’t speak,” he said. “Just like speechless.”
But he was able to muster up the reason for Xenia emerging as the champion.
“We put in way more work this year than we did the last two years,” Lewis said.
Many of the players have been with the team since its inception.
“We started this when we were four-years-old,” Freddie Williams said, fighting off tears. “To know that these are my babies that I’m going out with like this, I couldn’t be more proud of my family. I’m so proud and grateful for them, to be able to share this. These guys were amazing.”
There was a little personal satisfaction for Williams as well.
“Three of these in a row, it’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “I got a monkey off my back, that’s for sure.”
Let’s not forget the cheerleaders, who also put in a lot of work.
“Our cheerleaders were running, they were learning how to do flips,” Williams said. “They decided that they wanted to take their level up with us.”
That explains why they were hugging and crying after the game as well.
“It just means a lot,” Haylynn Mickle said. “It was like emotional, but also good.”
The Wee Bucs scored 407 points, had touchdowns from 13 of 18 players, seven defensive TDs, and eight punt-return TDs. Xenia gave up one TD in the regular season and one in the playoffs.
Other members of the team were Adrian Lanier Jr., Brylan Creditt, MaSiya Starks, Cayden Palmer, Gage Faulkner, Jaden Sparks, Korey Adams, Grayson Leverance, Jeremiah Goodrum, Greyson McClanahan, Brayson Gearing, Sawyer Lockwood, and Emmet Gulley.
Assistant coaches were Andy Lewis, Ken Goodrum, Kenny Keller, Steven Spears, Trevon Caldwell, and Sam Lockwood. Team mom was Cheri Lockwood.
Other cheerleaders were Kennedy Cox, Azure Davis, Shannon Glass, Alexandria Norfleet, Olivia Smith, Natalie Stewart, Bristol Williamson, Ava Wirth, Kaylee Norfleet, Addison Patterson, and Madyson DeNise. Cheerleading coaches were Kayla Patterson and Andrea Rogers.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.