Saturday, Nov. 20, marked the first time in more than 15 years that a Wells football team had made it to the Super Bowl.
The Wells Athletic Association’s Minor team, made up of 8-9 year olds, won the championship for the Southern Division of the Chesterfield Quarterback League (CQL). The Warriors were then invited to the old Clover Hill High School football stadium, where they faced, and were ultimately defeated by, Gordon of the Northern Division for the CQL Championship.
“Wells has always had a good program,” said CQL Commissioner Mike Hairfield. “Several of their children go on to play for Thomas Dale and Bird.” He noted that 65 percent to 75 percent of Bird’s football roster, which will soon be playing in the regional playoffs, had played youth football in the league.
The Warriors’ cheerleaders jumpstarted the energy level of the fans. At one point late in the game, the Wells mascot, Michael “Big Mike” Drake, father of No. 2 Xavier Twyne, towered over the young ladies in a super-sized Wells football uniform, initiating the chant, “Let’s go Warriors, let’s go.” Before long, the entire Wells side participated in the chanting. Within minutes, Wells scored a touchdown.
But energy just wasn’t enough to pull out a victory. Wells lost to Gordon 13-6. The team’s first and only touchdown came on a 70-yard rush by No. 35 Jahmeel Campbell, a runningback. After the hard loss, with tears streaming down his face, the 8-year-old said scoring the touchdown “felt good.”
Once the game was over, just after the ceremonial hand shake with the other team, Wells met behind the end zone. There formed a large group of players, coaches and parents, all eagerly awaiting comments from head coach Robby Leonard. As players kneeled and parents gathered, forming a shield from the rest of the world, nothing but sniffles sounded as silence fell upon the stadium seconds before the National Anthem started.
Leonard, also coordinator of WAA, provided all of the Wells family with encouraging, consoling words.
“I know you’re upset, but we’re upset, too,” he said, addressing his players. “I know you’re crying right now. But a week from now, you will be looking forward to next year’s season. … I love each and every one of you guys.”
Assistant coach Edward Williams added: “I know it hurts. It hurts because you are all winners.”
And winners they will remain.