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Saints Crowned Threepeat Champions

Flashback to January 2023, I would never have guessed writing this post...

Years prior, me and my best buddy Dustin were just parents cheering on our boys playing.  After thinking we could make a difference, we signed up as coaches to coach our 12U Saints. 

Season one and season two we cut some serious teeth on rolling with the punches... both in the games and within the league.  But we made it as fun as we could. Looking back on those earlier seasons, they were more like humiliated-punishment-losses. 

Growing through those struggles, we decided to give it another go.  For the year of 2023, our returning players, including our two boys, this would be the last season they could complete within the 11-12 year old age group.  Exactly half of our Fall 2023 team would age up - altering the course of our 12U team family.

Not to mention, many of the boys are wanting to play up.  They're in that age group of Middle School where they can play for their schools and prepare for the high school level.

2023 would more than likely be our final ride... somber emotions takeover as I write these words.

To our surprise, the Saints would clutch our first win as 12U flag Football Champions.  We took a gamble that year and had trophies made just beforehand.  We came into that championship game having just lost our first game of the season to our new rivals, the Steelers.

Winter 2023

Hop over to our second season this year, we were humming along making strides, sinking our feet into a well oiled team being undefeated... our last game of the normal season.  We had not played the Steelers since our victory over them in the Winter 2023 championship game... as the strangeness of circumstance would happen, we would lose to them again just before that championship weekend. 

To our efforts and resilience, we came out on top securing our second season victory as champions having defeated the Steelers yet once again.

Spring 2023

Insert this season, Fall of 2023.  Unlike our earlier seasons, we never had more than 10 boys - our smallest was 7 or so back in 2022.  This year however, we were awarded 12 boys amongst a total of five other 12U teams.  Had there been more volunteer coaches, they would have split up the kids into six 12U teams.  So here we were with a very, very full roster.

Not only this season did we have a full roster, with an odd number of teams, some teams would have to play back-to-back games.  As the league's hand of fate would have it (as it's become expected now) the Saints were one of two teams who had THREE back-to-back games whereas others only had one or two.  Unlike our prior seasons, this season we would play the Steelers three times, two of which were during our second back to back games.

Talk about stacking the tension?! 

Our Saints were killer this season.  Like punishingly good!  As if we already hadn't learned enough through the growth of our coaching efforts, this season would position itself as the most challenging team we've had to coach thus far.  

To our fortune, of the FIVE seasons we've coached, EIGHT players were returning players from past seasons.  Being the coaches we are, team building is very important to us. This season I had the wild hair idea to invite ALL the boys over to our place to watch Thursday Night Football as a team. 

Loud would be an understatement! 

As anything with a lot of kids, emotions, history, hormones changing.. clicks, rifts, frustration, disrespect can settle in, taking a well functioning team down to its foundation.  For about half the season, the only team that was beating us Saints, were the Saints themselves.  This tested the deep levels of our coaching fiber to shake out, rebuild, hold accountable, you name it.  This was a testing season.  

I would suppose though, that you don't get to this level of relationship without there being obstacles in the way.  As shitty as it was to go through, I tried to look at it as a good thing.  I wasn't sure how many other teams had this amount of repeat players and the willingness to show up for multiple seasons said a lot.

As the season grinded on, we would play more games than any season before. Like I mentioned earlier, we were scheduled to play the Steelers three different times. Wanna take a fat guess as to when the last scheduled game against them would take place??

You guessed it!!

It would be the final game of the normal season - just before championship weekend... and as lame, lame as it is - history reared its head again... 

The Steelers would beat us again.  

In retrospect, our team really needed to lose that game.  We had it coming like none other.  We needed the reboot.  It didn't help that game that our QB was playing two games back to back with a 101.5 fever.  He hadn't thrown an INT all season but this one game.  We had the game within our grasp, however, the Steelers exercised their right to milk the clock, burning down the final minutes, locking in their win against us.

100% gut check... man it sucked.

That aside though, there is nothing fun about coming into championship weekend with your only loss.  It kills the "invincibility" feeling, but man?! I'd be lying if I said it didn't pull the wind out of our sails.  YUCK!

We would have two more practices until championship weekend.  As it had been the case in seasons before, we would develop newer plays to combat the "copycat" plays the Steelers would pose against us.  In addition to that, those final practices were the hardest, most challenging we'd faced yet.  The stitches were tearing and our Saints team was imploding quickly.

As if a higher power was letting us know we weren't ready to compete... and that we needed a weekend or two to cool off.  Just as anxiety was spiking championship weekend, the heavens above rained like a mother-f down to earth!  and soaked the fields cancelling the entire championship weekend.

Our practice field...

This would ultimately allow the team to cool down, take this weekend off, enjoy the Thanksgiving week, squeeze in two more practices, and THEN be able to play again. 

This is exactly what the team needed.

Championship weekend couldn't have been a better day for an entire day dedicated to football!  The sun was out yet still kinda cool still.. perfect! 

To EVERYONE's surprise, one of the moms on the team had the wise ass idea to have fat heads made of the team.  Coach Dustin and I knew about this but did not expect that there would be fatheads made of us ALSO?!!! 

This really lightened the mood and tension everyone had been feeling coming out of the week prior.

To our fortune of effort, our first game, Saints played like commanding soldiers on the gridiron.  It would be our first shutout game of the season.  Not only did the defense hold the line at every possession, they also were the first ones to put up a score as our offense.  

I executed code name "you're gramma's here" and Slim rushed in and sacked the QB in their end zone giving us a safety; making the first score 2-0.  Cascades of top notch effort took over and ultimately sealed the fate of the Raiders to succumb to the Saints, 36-0.

One of the team parents BEAUTIFULLY stitched this first game together showcasing the entirety of the game.  Even the humorous moments between us coaches and the Ref.  What makes this video incredible is that he asked if Dustin and I would like to be Mic'd up.  So you can hear us talk amongst ourselves and the funny moments in between.  The parent even slipped in a tid-bit of "coach-bromance".. humorous and genuine! It's a damn good video. :)

After this win we had an hour break before our next game.  Uncomfortably so, I had to ask a diplomatic question to the league director requesting that when the playoff schedule was being created, that the final teams play simultaneously; ensuring that the other would-be waiting team not be able to come through and taunt another team deep in play. 

I'll give you one guess what team pulled this shit the season prior... 

Rhymes with Pittsburg and sounds like Steelers... 

After the hour break it was go time. A battle of preparedness and sportsmanship was about to unfold. Of all the games we had played all this season, and of all the games we've played against the Steelers, this was the most competitive.  Good calls and bad calls from the refs were equal throughout.  The head ref was so out of line the league director had to fill in as third ref to keep him in line.

Being on the sidelines, limited to only giving play calls, it was like watching two people punch each other in the face, exchanging blows back and forth not back down.. stressful. One TD was responded with another TD.  Difficult plays and player sub-in calls for such a game had to be made.  These were not easy, but necessary for everyone's team effort in getting us here. 

In the final three minutes, we Saints were up by one touch down.  The Steelers were making strides down the field for their final drive.  As they neared midfield, where the first down marker was, they decided to go for it on fourth down. As if a sniper was on the hill in the background providing overwatch to the team, Tristan wasted zero time sniping in, pulling the flag of one of the Steelers key players.

Turnover on downs.... 
Saint's ball.

Wait.. was this really happening?  Within the final minutes of the game, the ball is turned over to us with a lead up?... yes.  Without having to try for, we were positioned to "'exercise the clock" in the very manner the Steelers defeated us the first time. With care and class, we did so without being obstinate about it... Run plays from here out.

Downs one, two, three completed... refs blow the whistle... that's the game!!

Saints clutch their third championship victory in 2023...


and just like that... 

In the total of three seasons, we played approximately 30-33 games including playoff and unaccounted for scrimmages.   Of that total, Saints only lost three games.  If this were a test, we'd pass with a 90%. Each single defeat was during the final scheduled game of the season at the hands of the Steelers...


To accompany the first video, here is the nail biter video with a well scripted emotional ending by the director.  Hot damn?! I think I've watched both of these videos like 10 times already.  They are that good! 

Chas captured me and Dustin watching the first video before it went live..

Knowing that this was likely our final season in this 12U division with our potential hat-trick Saints team, we could not just leave it in the hands of the league to award the boys with a medal of participation.  Just like the last supper  or fairweather gets drafted, in typical me style, I turned to my creative artwork to convey the emotion of effort and thanks to each player.

With the extra week we obtained from the rainout, Dustin and I put our heads together and handmade these awards to be given individually at season's end. In addition to having become a Saints player for life, we also created special character/accomplishment awards for some players.

Below are the recipients AND their stats for the season to the best of my ability  (not yet shared until this moment)

In alphabetical order:


Flags: 1  |  Catches: 5  | TD: 2  |  ExPt: 1 



*Bravo missed half the season due to breaking his hand just before game one.

Catches: 6  |  ExPt: 1 



Flags: 11  |  Catches: 24  | TD: 9  |  ExPt: 5 | INT: 1  |  Sacks: 1



Catches: 15  | TD: 11  |  ExPt: 3



*Isaiah had a broken hand at the beginning of the season and missed the first half

Flags: 9 



Flags: 10  |  Catches: 29  | TD: 20  |  ExPt: 14  |  Sacks: 2



Flags: 14  |  Catches: 35  | TD: 15  |  ExPt: 12

INT: 2 | Pick'six: 1 |  Sacks: 2 



Flags: 9  |  Pick'six: 1



Flags: 29 |  Catches: 1  |  ExPt: 1 | INT: 5  |  Pick'six: 2 

Sacks: 2  |  Safety: 1



Flags: 24  |  ExPt: 1  |  INT: 1 



Flags: 1  |  Catches: 1  |  QB-INT: 3  |  QB-Sacks: 3 

Completed Passes: 201  |  TD Passes: 46 |  ExPt Passes: 39 



Flags: 15  |  Catches: 1  | TD: 3  |  INT: 3  |  Sacks: 10 


When we got home, Tristan wasted no time getting his room dialed in and retiring his gear. haha! 

I never imagined how much I would enjoy coaching the youth of our future.  

To the parents, thank you for entrusting us to lead your children.

To my bride, thank you for being such good counsel through our darker times.

To my best buddy, wingman coach, I could not have done this without you.

A parent said something to us as coaches that I will never forget...

Thank you for loving our boys as much as we do.

I don't know how I can end with anything more than that.

Until the unknown future of possible seasons presents themselves - this was a hell of a ride.

Have a grateful weekend! 

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