BC Warriors line up against defending champs

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Bennett’s Creek Warriors have the home-field advantage going into their junior midget, Division II Pop Warner playoff game on Saturday afternoon at King’s Fork High School, but they still face quite a hurdle.

That’s because the Warriors welcome the defending national champions in the junior midget class (ages 10-13), North Carolina’s Wake Forest Titans.

Bennett’s Creek’s head coach, Mike Bowles, has good reason to be optimistic his squad will be ready for the challenge.

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The Warriors went 7-1 in the regular season with the only loss being a 32-28 result against the Southeastern Virginia Conference’s Division I champion, the Virginia Beach Mustangs. In the seven Warrior wins, Bennett’s Creek has run over its opponents by a combined score of 168-36.

“For this age group, we have good size and good speed,” said Bowles.

“It was a very competitive division this year,” said Bowles. Not all the wins were blowouts as three came by a possession or less, including a 13-12 win against Olive Branch and a 14-6 win against Norfolk in the regular-season finale which gave the Warriors the outright division championship.

The Warriors and Titans meet at 1 p.m. at King’s Fork High School as part of a five-game schedule of Pop Warner playoff games on Saturday.

“This team is a true team,” said Bowles, “they stick together and don’t let anything come between them.

“There have been games which have been tough, when things have gone against us, but they do a great job of staying focused and staying determined.”

One of the Warrior rally cries during practices and before games sums it up. “Who’s got my back? I’ve got your back,” is the team motto.

So even if all seven Bennett’s Creek victories so far this season haven’t been pretty, Bowles knows one key thing about his team. “They’ve worked hard from the start of practice in the summer, and they play to what they need to do to win each game.”

Bowles and Bennett’s Creek are already looking down the road in the playoffs, not because they’re counting their chickens before they hatch, but because of the financial hurdles so many youth sports organizations face.

A win on Saturday means the Warriors potentially have two more regional playoff games. The next round, to be played on Nov. 22, could be another fortunate draw with another game in Suffolk, or it could send the Warriors to Forsyth County, N.C. or Blythewood, S.C.

If the Warriors are regional champions, that brings a trip to the national championships at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. with a week-long trip for a semifinal game, then possibly the national championship.

“For teams that get to Florida, it can be up to $20,000 for the week,” said Bowles.

“Up until then, we’re on our own each weekend,” said Bowles, who said a trip to Florida would need a lot of fundraising and, hopefully, sponsors from local businesses.