As the weeks go by, the wins keep piling up for the Senior Peewee Glen Rose Tigers in the Quad County Peewee Football Association.
Coach Damon Aper’s crew of 10 to 12-year-olds was 8-0 coming into Saturday’s big football matchup with Alvarado to conclude the regular season.
“I really think we play in one of the better leagues around, so we’ve had to earn it,” Aper said.
The Tigers have defeated Clifton (14-0), Hamilton (14-0), Grandview (20-6), Maypearl (20-12), Tolar (22-8), Venus (34-0), Godley (54-12) and Meridian (22-0) thus far.
Speaking of that Alvarado game, the Tigers (8-1) lost a defensive battle 8-0. Starting a drive at the Glen Rose 2, the Tigers had to punt against the wind and Alvarado got to set up shop just six yards from the end zone.
Alvarado ended up scoring the game’s only points on fourth-and-goal. Glen Rose appeared to score on a 70-yard fumble return touchdown, but it was called back on what Aper said was an errant penalty.
When asked about a memorable game, Aper turned his attention to the 42-point win over Godley.
“Godley was a good game because (Saul) Delgado got two interceptions, (Kirkland) Cooper returned an interception for a touchdown and Jess (Nedziella) got an interception,” the coach said. “Every one of our running backs scored a touchdown in that one.”
Tigers who only play offense include receiver Parker Simmons, guard Grant McGarity, guard Cadin Ice, tight end Ricky Douglas and tackle Jacob Merrill. Tigers strictly on the defensive side include tackle Cole Evert, outside linebacker Keegan Bunt, cornerback Charles Simons, end Daniel Delagarza, end River Costello, safety Joel Harte, cornerback Matthew Locke, tackle Tony Ramos and outside linebacker Saul Delgado.
There are a bevy of Tigers who contribute all-around, including Ethan Parrish (middle linebacker, utility), Stephen Hulsey (utility), Hayden Shaw (tight end, defensive end), Matthew Overton (utility), Westen Halcom (running back, cornerback), Case Thigpen (running back, free safety), Zar Mendez (running back, safety), Justin Hankins (center, nose guard), Ronin Aper (quarterback, cornerback), Abid Corrujedo (offensive guard, running back, middle linebacker), Kirkland Cooper (middle linebacker, offensive tackle), Jess Nedziella (offensive tackle, strong safety) and J.W. Roper (utility).
Beyond the elder Aper, coaches include Lance Simmons (offensive coordinator), David Halcom (offense), Justin Hankins (offensive/defensive line), Santos Delagarza (utility) and Michael Cooper (utility).
It seems the Tigers’ biggest strides made this season don’t involve a tangible skill.
“Probably the biggest thing is we teach them to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and tell themselves they are champions,” Aper said. “I use the example of a hand. The hand wide open is weak, but when all those fingers come together to make a fist – it’s a unified group that is strong. That has really been what the transformation of our team is about.”
Most of these Tigers are well-versed in how Aper and company operate.
“We’ve been running the same offense and defense for the three years I’ve been with the team, but our offense has really improved since the beginning of the year,” Aper said. “I especially think our offensive line has learned what the team concept is all about and made tremendous progress.”
The team’s offensive captains are Aper and Halcom. In the Tigers’ nine-team league, Halcom actually leads all players in rushing yards and touchdowns. The defensive captains are Hankins and Cooper.
“These guys are all sixth graders and team leaders,” the coach said. “They do a great job of helping our less experienced players.”
The Tigers have a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their first playoff game will be on Nov. 3 in Glen Rose. In fact, the Freshman and Junior Peewee Tigers also have first-round byes and will open their postseasons in Glen Rose that day.
“Our goal is to get to the Peewee Super Bowl in Godley and win it,” Aper said. “We won the Super Bowl in 2010 in Clifton. There’s no doubt that is what we’re shooting for again.
“Our team picture after that win with our trophy are on display in the trophy case at Glen Rose Intermediate. If we win again, we’ll do the same thing.”
It’s a safe bet Tiger football fans throughout town are hoping history repeats itself.