It is too bad that the Optimist Club of Marco Island’s football teams have no more games on Marco this season.
It was a great Saturday for families and watching young kids play quality football at Winterberrry Park.
I had the good fortune of seeing the Pee Wee team battle First Baptist Academy in the Eagles first win. And battle it was for kids ages 7 to 10, weighing up to 95 pounds.
One youngster that caught about everyone’s eye was John Gates. No. 4 is 7 years old, around four feet tall and weighs about 55 pounds.
He plays offensive tackle. He charged out to the field and lined up against a First Baptist Beacons player who was nearly double his weight and a lot taller.
That didn’t bother John, when the play started he attacked. It was a sight to see him wrap his arms around the Goliath’s legs and hold on. Of course that isn’t allowed, but he was so low down I don’t think the referees could see it, or just gave John the benefit.
The bigger surprise was that as the game wore on he leveled the giant with cross blocks, marvelously executed at ground level.
The Pee Wee team had yet to win a game, facing a team that had registered two ties, but nary a win. It was obvious from the beginning that the game belonged to Marco.
Jimmy Gates, Joey Golec, Nick Vergo, Robert Law, Jay Cartwright, Ryan Wallace, “Big D” Dominic Moller, “Little D” Dominic Martin, Cooper Nettles and the Webb boys, Cody and Justin, were other names I jotted down during play.
Justin Webb made a number of nice runs, including a 25-yarder, while also playing solid defense.
Cody Webb had five receptions, including a 20-yard TD catch, made a number of tackles and closed out the last drive against First Baptist with an interception.
But Cooper Nettles was “The Man.”
He played quarterback like he had done it for years when in reality it was his first season. The 10-year-old played corner back for two years, which he also played on Saturday.
High School players could take a lesson on how to look off an intended receiver to get the defense moving in the wrong direction, then come back to complete a pass. He also was adept at handoffs and running the option.
Nettles completed more than 50 percent of his passes, ran for two touchdowns, and made two interceptions, one for a 55-yard score.
Head coach Eddie Webb told the team after the game, “You played like champions. You executed every play.”
And as adult players often do, Nettles wasn’t totally happy, but.
“It didn’t go as well as I thought, but we won,” he said. “It was awesome.”
In other Eagles action, the Junior team again lost to a more experienced team.
Coach Jim Prange said:
The only way to describe Saturday’s game was that it was a war. All year our kids have been going up against bigger, more experienced competition and not backing down. Saturday was no exception. A few breakdowns resulted in some long scores by the other team but, all in all, our defense has been awesome. Many of these kids are playing the whole game with no break. They also had participated in other sports before coming to the game. Sprankle and Wagner had a track meet, Jordan and Prange had a volleyball game. They’re all good athletes.
Great line play from Yemerson, Jackson Shea, Jordan, Ethan, Warren, Kelly and J.R. Pierce allowing for some nice runs by Prange, Wagner, Gross and Sprankle. Will Glasser led the Junior Eagles at quarterback, with Codie Dean at end. Bruised and battered, we finished the game with 12 kids. These young men are the best, they do not quit.
I would like to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting us. I would also like to thank my coaching staff for all their support...Hayden Warren, Joel Pierce, Steven Schneider and Danny Wilmath.
Next Friday the Junior team will be featured.
Throughout the day the Eagles cheerleaders supported their teams. Trena Herron has 42 girls, ages 4 to 12. The younger girls can cheer for either Pee Wee or Junior games, while the older girls can do both if they wish.
The Loyal Order of the Moose, Lodge 1990, was there to support the Optimist program. Adam Vester, lodge administrator, presented a check for $500 to the Eagles. The lodge had also given $500 to the Marco Island Surge soccer program.
See more Eagles photos online.