This fall, the Columbia County Recreation Department opened tackle football registration for 6-year-olds for the first time.
The first year for the Pee Wee group seemed like a big success, with several talented young players in the league.
After an 11-game regular season, the CCRD Knights claimed the championship by virtue of a perfect 11-0 season. Now, in a effort of full disclosure, I was one of the coaches and my son was a player for the Knights.
I considered not writing this column for that reason, but thought that wouldn’t be fair to the kids on the team. The kids worked hard and deserve the recognition. Also, I wrote a similar column in the spring, when the 6-year-old Ravens went undefeated to claim the CAYFA championship.
The Knights were dominant this season.
The team’s success had very little to do with coaching. We had the good fortune of having several terrific players. It was their talent that allowed them to post some pretty amazing team statistics this season.
• They outscored their opponents 275-37.
• The Knights tallied 45 touchdowns and allowed just six all season.
• The defense posted seven shutouts.
• Seven different players scored touchdowns this season.
You do not post numbers like that without some great individual talent, and the Knights had plenty led by running back and safety Joseph Jean.
Jean was a devastating hitter on defense – so much so, that there were times when we simply held him back. He was easily the hardest hitter in the league, and reminded me of my first couple of years playing youth football when CCRD Hall of Famer Lenny Springs lined up at linebacker.
On offense, Jean was very Lenny Springs-like, too. He was virtually unstoppable. For the season, he racked up 21 total touchdowns – 19 rushing, one fumble recovery and one interception return. He also ran in four extra points. Astonishingly, he scored touchdowns on 19 of his 44 rushing attempts this year.
Jean had help on both sides of the ball from fullback and linebacker Ty McClintock, who scored 11 touchdowns and ran in four extra points this season. He was also one of the hardest hitters in the league and finished as one of the Knights’ top tacklers.
Here are a few other players that played a key role for the Knights this season:
• Thai Ruffin (center/defensive lineman): At 100 pounds, Ruffin was the league’s biggest player, but he was also quick. He used his size and quickness to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On top of that, Ruffin is a brilliant student and was a tremendous leader for the team.
• Tucker Pulliam (offensive line/running back/linebacker): He emerged after the first few games to become one of the team’s most important players, especially on defense, where his sure tackling helped key a defense that allowed just 3.4 points per game. He had four touchdowns and two extra points.
• John Chandler Brown (quarterback/wide receiver/linebacker): He had two touchdowns and led the team with six extra points.
• Asher Clark (quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back): The speedy Clark had three touchdowns and three extra points.
• Barrett Alexander (defensive end/tight end): Alexander was one of the top players on defense. He also had one touchdown and almost 100 yards on just two carries this season.
Other team members included Jordan Edenfield, Nolan Gilson, Frederick Haith, Derrius Heath, Dayne Hunter, Logan Kaminer, Michael Lanham, Blake Reynolds and Kendall Williams.
The older age groups were completing their seasons this weekend. I will do a follow-up on the championship teams next week.