The Tale of Two Champions: Mathews-Dickey JFL Super Bowl Champions in Florida

The Tale of Two Champions: Mathews-Dickey JFL Super Bowl Champions in Florida

The Tale of Two Champions | A Super Bowl Journey

“This is a group of which to be proud…The players, cheerleaders, coaches, coordinators and parents carried the banner well.”


SUPPORTED BY MD’S FAITHFUL MEMBERS, PARENTS &VOLUNTEERS

The following is a guest article. Written by Tom Sullivan, VP Sports & Operations, “The Tale of Two Champions” is a retelling of the story he watched unfold during the season all the way through the culmination event of the Super Bowl games. Tom traveled with the Bulldogs and documented the competition through this article and many photographs.  

A Great Champion

In July of 2016, the 13 Un-limited Mathews-Dickey Football Team began their voyage and search for a viable competitor. Ranked 9th in the nation, the team saw no one who could compete with them and make the players better. In their search, they made mistakes and considered playing in two leagues without proper consent.

They were able to play for approximately two weeks before they unluckily found themselves all alone with no one to play against. With plans to compete nationally, they were left in a very compromising disposition, leaving them to believe there was no way to remain sharp or get better.

The team found opponents here and there until the end of the season where they competed against Lutheran North, one of the top teams in the St. Louis area. The results were promising. The Mathews-Dickey 13 Un-Limited Bulldogs won 20 – 0 against the Lutheran North eight graders, giving them a high level of confidence and assurance that they were ready to compete nationally.

On November 21, 2016, the team left St. Louis, MO., headed for Panama City Beach, FL., to compete in the championship bowl games aka the Super Bowl. They arrived in Panama mid-day Tuesday and began preparing for their first game on Thanksgiving Thursday. The teams they competing against were mostly All-Star tournament teams primed to maul over a regular team, but the 13 Un-Limited Bulldogs are no regular team.

13 Un-limited Games

Game One: Thursday. Won by the Bulldogs by a score of 12 – 7 against the Trojan Blacks.

Game Two: Friday. The Bulldogs beat the East Alabama Gators 25 – 12.

Game Three: Saturday. The Bulldogs beat the East Alabama Gators 19 – 6, closing the season as the undisputed, undefeated National Champions.

CONGRATULATIONS TO A WELL COACHED TEAM, A GROUP OF FANTASTIC PLAYERS AND A GROUP OF DEDICATED, HARD WORKING COACHES

Teams of Blood, Sweat, Tears & Cheers

Mathews-Dickey had a total of five teams to go to Panama City Beach and they worked terribly hard. Following the regular season and the local championship games, each team had to travel to Panama City Beach, weigh-in and take photos for the team. The 8 Un-Limited team made it a bit more difficult by leaving on Tuesday night.

This is not about just playing football. Yes, football is the center of it all, but there is more to it. This program helps to build the character of the child by playing the game right, meeting new people, dealing with adversity, dealing with tough challenges, being a team member and developing good leadership skills. The team also has to raise enough funds to pay for a $6,350 bus, pay $25 per child for the tournament, and pay a team fee of $250. Each room cost an average of $700 and food for the players for a minimum of seven days. So food alone for each player will cost around $150 per child.

8 Un-Limited Games

The 8 Un-Limited Bulldogs beat the Georgia Rockmart Yellow Jackets 32 – 0 Thursday.
Friday they lost to the Memphis Vikings 12 – 19 in triple overtime.
The little Dogs came back later Friday and beat Georgia Rockmart Yellow Jackets 20 – 19.
On Saturday, the Memphis Vikings were too much for the 8 year olds where they lost the championship 26 – 13.

10 Un-Limited Games

The 10 Un-Limited team had a similar experience.
They first played and beat the Center Point Eagles of Alabama 7 – 6 on Thursday.
Friday they beat Gresham Park Rattlers out of Atlanta 6 – 0.
Later on that same day the Bulldogs lost to the Phoenix City Stars out of Atlanta.
Then Saturday, they lost the championship to the Center Point Eagles of Alabama this time 19 – 0.

11 Un-Limited Games

Our 11 Un-Limited Bulldogs could not draw any favor.
On Thursday, they lost to Cincinnati 6 – 2.
They later lost to Atlanta 12 – 6.

Team Spirit

We also had a group of cheerleaders who tirelessly followed and cheered for the teams every single day. They were there with great support and kept the atmosphere highly spirited.

A TEAM OF RESPECT, RESTRAINT & RESPONSIBILITY (The 3 R’s)

In the eyes of adversity, MD’s 12 Un-Limited Bulldog team met challenge after challenge. They had to sit and wait for extra hours because the schedule was off. Originally, they were scheduled to compete on Friday and someone suddenly walked up to them at 10:30 AM and said you play at 1 PM today. The team had to get on the bus and go get their equipment. They had officials treating the coaches and the team poorly. The police even came to the coaching staff and said, “You must have your parent in the stands cut the music down”. They even had to play three games in one day. This is the only time I ever heard a coach tell his players to, “Go home, take one Tylenol and go to bed”.

With all of the above occurring, the coaching staff had to do all they could to control their behavior for the sake of the players and give them an opportunity to compete and win. The coaches were so good, they never allowed the players to become distracted and they all carried themselves with class, perseverance and strength. The 3 R’s were truly alive.

12 Un-Limited Games

Those young men of class, called bulldogs, played the first game and won by beating Louisiana 41 – 0.
The second game, they lost to Atlanta Georgia by a score of 13 – 12.
They came back and beat Florida 27 – 12.
The next game was won by beating New Orleans 13 – 12.
Another game was played and won by the Bulldogs beating Alabama 28 – 6.

Lastly, during the mid-Saturday night hours the Mathews-Dickey 12 Un-Limited Bulldogs met the same team that defeated them the second game of the tournament. But this time the Bulldogs conquered Atlanta Georgia by a score of 7 – 0 to be crowned as the Champion.

It would only be fitting that the bowl officials deemed it appropriate to award the Mathews-Dickey Cheerleaders championship rings alone with the players.

This is a group of which to be proud. Both teams. The players, cheerleaders, coaches, coordinators and parents carried the banner well.

We commend the parents and volunteers for their hard work and efforts. Words cannot express how proud we are of them. Some of our members are well traveled yet many have never seen an ocean or been outside of the state. The Super Bowl games in FL. is an experience that will live forever in their hearts. In order for these children to go on trips like this, they must have good grades, work extremely hard as well as good leaders of their peers. Today, a Blue Chipper and tomorrow, a great Citizen.