Mitey Mites are super
JIM TAYLORARCADIA - - The previous two seasons, the Avon Park Mitey Mites star was higher and brighter than any other team in youth football.
Published: November 24, 2012
Published: November 24, 2012
When you crash and burn from such heights it makes an impact and that's what happened to the Red Devils in their first game of the season in a 6-0 loss to the Okeechobee Bulls on the last play of the game.
"We took that loss personal," said Avon Park Coach Reginald Knighten. "You win a lot of games in a row and you kind of get complacent. You win 28 in a row and you come back next season and it's the same old thing. After that loss it kind of woke us up as coaches and as players."
So dedicated to the season, they had shirts made that simply said, "We will work hard, we will get better and we will win."
That is exactly what they did, win. All the way to the Super Bowl for an unprecedented third consecutive Super Bowl victory with a 7-0 win over the Fair Oaks Rattlers of Hillsborough County.
The Rattlers were the same team they faced last year in the Super Bowl. Last year, the Red Devils won in convincing style. This year it was a defensive struggle.
Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter as they tried to win the field position battle.
Avon Park made the first big play of the game late in the second quarter. With the ball on its 25-yard line, the Red Devil linemen opened a huge hole on the right side for the games Most Valuable Player Garrick Rowe to run through.
Getting past the line, Rowe made a juke move on a linebacker and shot past the secondary down the right sideline for 75 yards and touchdown. Avon Park converted the extra point and went into the half 7-0.
The second half mirrored the first as the defensive struggle continued and the teams played for field position.
Late in the fourth quarter, Fair Oaks opened a huge hole in the right side of the line. The Rattler running back shot past the linebackers and secondary and looked to be running for a long touchdown.
Out of nowhere, Avon Park defenders, Rowe and Curtis Ludding Jr. tracked down the Rattler runner and tackled him on the Red Devils 25-yard line.
The Rattlers were unable to take advantage of the play and Avon Park's defense didn't yield another first down to preserve the hard-fought 7-0 Red Devil victory.
Winning a third consecutive championship speaks volumes about the Avon Park players and coaching staff who have worked hard to accomplish such an incredible feat.
Running the football and playing defense has been a season long staple of this talented squad. After learning valuable lessons in the first game loss, the team focused on reaching their goal this year.
"Our defense has led the way all season," said Knighten. "Our starters have not given up a touchdown all season. A lot of people did not see that. So what we did all season was to try to build depth by rotating a lot of players in for next year. That's how we try to do it. In the big games, everybody does not play the same amount, but the next year they will and that is how we keep the system going."