The 2012 Glen Rose Junior Tigers didn’t always look the part of a champion this season, but when the stakes were high the boys in red rose up.

On the way to a 10-2 record this year, the Junior Tigers hit their stride down the stretch to win the Quad County Pee Wee Football Association Super Bowl in Godley earlier this month. They achieved the feat with an 18-8 victory over Grandview.

“I’m just so proud of these boys because they went from not scoring a touchdown in our first game to coming together through hard work in practice and being ready to learn,” said coach Wes Young. “It paid off with a Super Bowl victory.”

Young talked about some early season difficulties, which help illustrate the strides made by the Junior Tigers.

“We lost to a Clifton team early in the season that ended up losing in the first playoff round,” Young said. “We barely beat a Hamilton team that only won one game, and we were blown out by Grandview in our third game. Against Maypearl, we finally started to figure things out before our breakthrough win against Tolar.”

Speaking of that 12-6 double-overtime victory over Tolar, Young believes that day was perhaps the most important one of the season besides Super Bowl Saturday.

“(Tolar was) undefeated coming into that game, and we had just started really coming together as a team the game before to pull off a good win,” Young said. “We’d lost to them in a (preseason) scrimmage. That was probably the best game the boys have played before the Super Bowl.

“I’d point to that ballgame as when our team really took off. Our offensive line really learned how to help each other out on blocks and our offense soared after that game to average around 25 points the rest of the season.”

Coming off a first-round playoff bye, the Junior Tigers beat Tolar 18-6 the next week to set up their Super Bowl showdown with Grandview.

“The Grandview team we were up against hadn’t lost a game in at least three years; they’d won the Super Bowl every year they’d been in the league,” Young said. “We’d never scored a touchdown in our previous three games against them. Our boys had a hard week of practice, they were focused and you could tell they weren’t intimidated, like maybe we had been in the past. We held them without a first down on the game’s opening drive and then we drove down the field and scored on our first possession.

“You could see the heads of the Grandview players drop and our boys were feeling unstoppable at that point. In the second half, Grandview only got a few first downs on us. On that day, we were the better football team.”

Junior Tiger players include Jace Karels (FB/DE), Gavin Young (QB), Daniel Rodriguez (RG), Gunner Henrich (OL/LB), Danny Vasquez (FS), Ethan Howard (TE/DE), Garrett Stivers (WR), Zach Douglas (WR), Hayden Stivers (S), Reagan Rodriguez (RB/FS), Davis Dempsey (WR), Cameron Kirby (TE/DE), John Pompa (WR), Daniel Garcia (NG/OL), Antonio Vasquez (S), Max Hood (LB), Sam Aldriedge (OL/DL), Garrett Bryson (OL), Blake Glass (CB), Dakota Dunson (DL), Mason Miller (OL/DL), Bradley Hunt (DL), Mason Evert (OL/DL) and Elijah Miller (CB).

“As far as most improved player, I’d say Reagan Rodriguez on offense and Cameron Kirby on defense,” Young said. “Both of them played very well in the Super Bowl. Team leaders on offense this year were quarterback Gavin Young, running back Reagan Rodriguez and our entire offensive line.

“The play of our offensive line was the biggest key to the season. At every single practice we worked on blocking until the boys got tired of it and it paid off late in the year.”

In regard to defensive leaders, Young pointed to linebackers Hood and Henrich, along with cornerbacks Glass and Miller.

“I could include our entire defensive line for how they stepped up,” the coach said. “I also need to mention that Cameron Kirby should be recognized for his great play on both sides of the ball.”

Beyond Young, other coaches include David Hood, Phillip Howard, Roy Miller and Juan Garcia.

“Our entire coaching staff was so influential to the success of the boys,” Young said. “We truly were a team this year.”

This crew of big cats had a limited window together, which makes their achievement even more special.

“All but two of our offensive starters will move up to the senior division, and on defense all but four starters are moving up,” Young said. “We do have a strong group that will stay in this division, and I think they can make a deep run next year.”