In a grueling December championship battle, a back and forth football brawl, team Silver Backs took on undefeated team Hit Squad on the SQ field of dreams and won a narrow victory, 35-34.
Football fans watched under the hot sun as the Silver Backs’ defense held on four straight downs in the red zone, denying team Hit Squad the win.
“This was the most controversial game I ever played,” said Hit Squad star quarterback Brandon Riddle Terrell.
The game was called by referees from their own view of the field, but some players from both teams said that some of the calls were unfair. The calls even led to some confrontational incidents between players and referees.
Hit Squad Coach Jeremiah “JB” Brown said that despite uncharacteristic displays by the players during confrontations with referees, he is proud of both teams, as well as the referees, for showing up to make the league a success.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys in the league. We started this league to give the guys in prison something to look forward to and to build good character,” Brown said. “I understand when it’s all on the line and it’s the championship, tempers will flare and passions will get high. But, overall, that was a very good game.”
Coach Tom Garner — “I’m proud of these guys. They fought through the adversity and I appreciate their hard work. This game is not about race either; it’s about the unity.”
Dewayne Scott — “I told you guys if we play with heart we can win! And this is the outcome if we play with heart. It’s not just about football; it’s about the discipline you can carry from here to the outside with you.”
Anthony Gomez — “I feel like we came to do what we came to do and it was discipline and heart that made it happen.”
Gage Vasquez — “If it wasn’t for Delvy we would have lost the game.”
Cooper Davion — “Good unity, perfect energy. We couldn’t have done it without our team unity.”
Nick McDaniels — “Give this game ball to our MVP, Delvy. We could not have done it without our QB.”
Silver Backs Coach Tom Garner, in his first role as coach, delivered a passionate message of hope to his team that revved them up for the game.
“My game plan was just for them to come to play aggressive and to play hard with unity,” said Garner.
The tone of the day was set when the Silver Backs broke through a banner as they entered the field, sending out electric energy like a hyped up college team in a Pac-10 conference title game. Roars from the players echoed across midfield as they ran through, sending the message “We came to play.”
“When they came through the banner, I saw a different kind of energy,” said referee Brown.
Both teams had come to play, but the favorites were the Hit Squad. They beat the Silver Backs twice during the regular season, but Silver Backs wide receiver Joshua “JB” Burton never lost hope.
“I used to always tell my team that we were gonna see them in the championship and, look, we did,” said Burton, who ended the day with two touchdowns and 105 reception yards, the most on either team. “Every time I touch the ball, it’s electric; that’s my slogan,” he said.
Since the Silver Backs were not favored to win, they were looked at as underdogs, Burton said.
“Most of our guys had left [gone home] and we had to use guys from different teams to make up our team during the regular season; we had to improvise,” said Burton.
The Silver Backs drew first blood with a touchdown pass from their MVP quarterback, Delvon “Delvy” Adams, to his star receiver, Aaron “A-1” Wooden. Wooden had one TD, a two-point conversion and an interception on defense.
Wooden, who is soon to be released from prison, said “This game will be remembered. The game of football unifies us. When I play, it makes me feel like I’m not even in jail.”
The Hit Squad didn’t waste time striking back as Terrell had a 50-yard run, setting up a short throw to Jesse Rose in the end zone.
Rose had 70 yards receiving for the day and one TD, and was second only to Burton in reception yards.
By halftime the game was a stand-off like an old Western movie. It was 14-13 after Terrell hit Raveon Wooden in the back of the end zone with a 50-yard bomb that dropped right into his hands.
The crowd was into the excitement, with cheers and ooh’s heard throughout the game. Spectators were screaming to team Silver Backs, “Contain! Contain!” Spectators for the Hit Squad were yelling, “Watch out for JB!”
Offensive and defensive lines clashed and clutched one another. Every time the defenses would apply pressure, somehow the offenses would figure out a way to make a play.
Silver Backs center Jonathan Estrada hiked the ball and blocked nose tackle Jermaine “FM” Gurley while Adams threw a 20-yarder to “A-1” Wooden. That led the team to the American flag hanging at the back of the goal post.
Hit Squad receiver Oscar Acosta ran untouched 60 yards into the all-dirt backfield late in the third quarter to put more points on the board. The score was 20-21. From there it was a back and forth strike match. Defense and offense did not disappoint the fans.
After watching QB Terrell out-sprint the defense of the Silver Backs and run for a TD on a designed sideline play, ex-semi-pro running back Donovan “DC” Cotton was ecstatic.
“Man, that was a beautiful TD. You got to outside-contain him [QB Terrell], because if you don’t, that’s what he’s going to do,” said Cotton.
After a daring 80-yard run and TD by QB Adams late in the fourth, the score was 35-34 Silver Backs. Their defense held Hit Squad at the goal line, stopping them from scoring after several missed opportunities. The SQ champions and one time underdogs, the Silver Backs proved to the doubtful that anyone came overcome anything if you are willing to work hard.