XENIA — Some fourth and fifth graders are hoping to transform Xenia from the City of Hospitality to Titletown.
Well, at least where youth football is concerned.
The Xenia Wee Bucs fifth grade white and fourth grade blue teams are in the Gem City Youth Conference’s Gem City Bowl Saturday in Lebanon. The series of games from Bantam to sixth grade represent the championships for each age group. It’s the first time Xenia has had two teams in the game and the first time a Xenia team has made it in several years.
The fifth grade team went undefeated and didn’t allow a point until a 25-6 win over Jamestown in the second round of the playoffs. The top-seeded team, coached by Brian Stephan, has scored 206 points so far and will take on the second-seeded Huber Heights (Wayne) Red.
The fourth grade team, coached by Freddie Williams, was 4-2 in the regular season, winning three in a row in the middle. The Wee Bucs, seeded fourth, will take on seventh-seeded Lebanon White, a team they beat, 18-6, earlier this season.
“In Xenia, the future’s very bright,” Stephan said. “That’s what you kind of want to see.”
The fifth grade actually has two teams with more than 40 players total.
“When they join up together, that’s going to be really good to see,” Stephan said.
But for now, the focus is on Saturday’s game. The fifth grade’s appearance represents the culmination of several years of hard work. A couple current players won a few games in the Bantam division, but after that, this group’s first year together produced zero wins. Now the Wee Bucs are one win away from being undefeated champs.
“I had a feeling we would be (good) because we had a lot of good players on the team, including the line and us,” said QB Gage Stephan.
For Tyler Thompson, being in the title game runs in the family.
“My brother (Andrew Price) went to the super bowl when he played and it feels good to go to the super bowl.”
The Wee Bucs beat Huber Heights White to make it to the finals.
“That was big,” said Sebastain Hoagland. “Everybody was just going crazy because it’s our first time in like six years.”
Added Gavin Climie, “It feels really good, especially my second year of playing football. It’s probably the best thing that could ever happen to me.”
The fourth graders are also blazing a trail for themselves.
“We’ve been together for three or four years,” Williams said. “We fought through. We’ve gotten to the semifinals every single year.”
In the last two games Xenia has not allowed a touchdown and has surrendered just one first down. That’s a big reason the Wee Bucs are still playing.
“We’ve been extremely dominant,” Williams said. “We want to make sure we represent the city right.”
While running is commonplace at this level of football, the Wee Bucs don’t subscribe to that philosophy.
“We are predominantly a passing offense,” Williams said. “We throw the ball down the field.”
Xenia has at least one passing TD in each game — usually multiple TDs according to Williams — and has an 80-yard play to its credit.
The fourth grade game is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the sixth graders following around 6 p.m. The league also has teams from the Centerville, Beavercreek, and Mad River (Stebbins) school districts.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.