We had three Andrew Hill Raiders receive Awards at the Nationals Scholastic Banquet in Boston. Please help me in Congratulating Anthony Barba, Kijana Hilton, and Xavier Mora-Sanchez on their fine academics.
This 2012 championship season has been years in the making. A core group of these boys started playing together as Tiny Mites when they were 5-7 years old. Being physically smaller than most opponents, with several current players still barely making the minimum weight requirement, this group suffered many losses in previous seasons. This year it all came together with the addition of several new players and under the leadership of 20 year head coach Tim Hilton. With a simplified playbook with an emphasis on perfect execution, some tough love and a lot of work, the Jr. Midgets are currently 9-2 and headed to Orlando, Florida for Super Bowl Week Dec. 1-8. During the final minutes of the Championship game win over Hollister, one parent said, “As time was running out, it was so loud and exciting because we were going to win, but then the parents got scared and quiet because we said how are we going to pay to get our kids there? Another parent said, “We’ll figure that out later, right now we’re about to be champions!” and then it got loud again.”
Coach Tim says, “the kids have had to endure some unfavorable circumstances over the years, but they kept believing, never gave up, and they deserve this. The most exciting part for me is being able to take these kids, many who along with their parents have not traveled far from San Jose, on a plane across the country and broaden their worlds”.
The Raiders went on to beat the Oak Cliff Jets from Dallas, Texas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Needing to win one more game to advance to the 2012 Pop Warner Division II Super Bowl, the Raiders were stopped by the New Haven Seahawks from Connecticut. Although the season ended in the National Semi-Final game, the boys enjoyed the ride of their lives during a season never to be forgotten.
The weather was terrible. It was pouring, cold and windy, but that didn't stop the Raiders from recovering a fumble on the Fallon Greenwave's first play. The Raiders turned the opportunity into an 80 yard touchdown on their first play and the rout was on. With a few long scoring runs and 2 called back, the Raiders went into halftime with a 26-6 lead.
During halftime the heavy rain & wind was joined by thunder and lightning. After several flashes, the powers that be decided to call the game for the safety reasons. It was decided the game would continue the next morning.
Something about those early games for the Raiders. The Greenwave came ready to play and scored. Once that happened, the Raiders realized the game hadn't been won the night before and quickly went to work. Awake and back on track, the Raiders easily went on to win the Pacific NorthWest Regional Championship game by a score of 38-12. They will advance to the Best of the West Bowl game that will rotate between here and Los Angeles.
The Raiders were not awake for their Invitational Regional Championship game Saturday morning. After returning the opening kick off for a touchdown and a long drive, the South Lake Tahoe Vikings quickly pulled to a 16-0 lead. After a very umm...what's the word...fiery speech where Coach Tim questioned the team's heart, desire & pride, the team responded in the second half. With long TD passes & runs, the Raiders scored 20 unanswered points.The Vikings were on the move & ready to score a game winning touchdown when the Raiders defense stopped them on 4th down on the 1 inch line. The Raiders barely avoided a safety on the next play and found themselves facing 3rd & long with enough time for the Vikings to score if they got the ball back. Luckily the Raiders busted a 50 yd run play, then ran out the clock to win to Championship game 20-16.
There were plenty of Bayside Broncos fans that thought their 9-0 team would finish the perfect season with a repeat of a lopsided win over the Raiders as they did in Week 1 of the season. Then there was the Andrew Hill Raiders Family that had seen Coach Tim Hilton and this team's journey and knew it wasn't going to be that easy for the Broncos.
After a back and forth battle and the Raiders missing a field goal attempt with 5 seconds left in regulation, the 0 - 0 game would be determined in overtime. Each team would have 4 plays from the 10 yard line to score and prevent the other team from doing so. First up were the Broncos. On their 4th play they rammed up the middle to be stuffed by the Raiders defense. They pushed, the Raiders resisted, the player fell down. One referee came in with a touchdown signal while the closer referee signaled no good. The determination was that the player did not get in for the score.
The Raiders went on offense. 1st play, a little, 2nd play, a little more, 3rd play, incomplete pass, but wait, pass interference was called. The next play a quick slant pass is thrown, the defender went up for an interception, but our receiver tipped the ball to himself and hung on while falling to the ground. The refs arms went up to signal touchdown, the sidelines erupted, the stands rocked, and the 2009 Jr. Midgets were crowned Conference Champions!