A blue-and-gold wave washed over the sidewalk in front of Lonnie Young Recreation Center early Sunday afternoon as a community welcomed home the city’s newest championship team.
On Saturday, Philadelphia’s Northwest Raiders clobbered Connecticut’s New Britain Raiders 26-6 to capture the “Midget” Pop Warner Super Bowl.
It’s the athletic association’s first-ever national title.
“It’s an amazing feeling — nothing like it,” said quarterback Naeem Bonner. “We went down there, handled our business, came back with a trophy.”
Running back Isheem Young was just as happy as he stood on Chelten Avenue, horns honking behind him.
“I had a lot of confidence in my team and I knew we were going to pull it through,” said Young.
How they won
Young was Saturday’s standout player, scoring all four of the teams touchdowns in Disney World, including an 89-yard rip up the sideline during the second quarter.
Tough defense also paved the way for the historic win, which came as a relief for head coach Duane Watson, the team’s leader for two decades.
“Third time’s a charm,” he said, smiling. “It’s been a long road.”
The Raiders played for a Super Bowl in 2011 and 2012, but fell short.
This year’s title came on the heels of an undefeated season, a regional championship and a double overtime win over a tough Florida team.
The local celebration
Longtime resident and association secretary Renee Tarpley watched the big win from her home a block away from Lonnie Young. Afterwards, she headed outside and cheered.
“We always hear bad things about our youths and everything, so we want to be part of the solution and show that we do have good kids around and we’re doing something positive with our youths in the community,” said Tarpley.
The Raiders will now set its sights on getting a dedicated field for its players.
The association currently shares a gridiron with Martin Luther King High School.