Pee Wee Gators heading to championship game

The city of Gainesville Pop Warner Pee Wee Gators will be playing in the Division III Southeast Region Championship game. The team is led by assistant coaches Brad Hutchinson, from left, Kenzon Hutchinson and coach Paul Jenkins. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.

The city of Gainesville Pee Wee Gators will play in the Florida Pop Warner Division III Southeast Region Championship game against the Clermont Knights.

The Gators will play for the regional championship at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Hickory Tree Community Park at 2361 Old Hickory Tree Road in St. Cloud. Tickets will cost $10 for adults and $5 for students, and will only be sold at the gate for cash only.

Division III does not have a Super Bowl, so this will be the last game of the season for the Gators, who are 9-1 this season.

The team beat the Tallahassee Bradfordville Buccaneers 34-6 in Tallahassee last Saturday in a playoff game to advance to the regional championship game.

"They were happy, and they didn't want to stop playing, but the clock ran out on them," said head coach Paul Jenkins, after the team practiced last Thursday night at Lincoln Park on SE 15th Street. "They are pretty good athletes," he said. "All of them."

Jenkins said the team has 24 players ages 9-11, who mostly attend Williams Elementary and Howard Bishop and Lincoln middle schools. He said the players, who are excited about playing for the regional championship, had to win their division in the Putnam Athletic League and a playoff game to make it to this point.

"I am very proud of these guys, and these guys are very dedicated," Jenkins said. "Last year, we made it to the playoffs and we've always come up just short of making it to the regionals in the past."

Fullback Aaron "AJ" Small, 10, said he is excited about playing in the championship game.

"I hope we win, and I know it is going to take a lot of hard work," Small said.

Taylor Kendrick, 10, a defensive tackle on the team, also said it would be nice to win the championship.

"It feels good making it to the championship game, and I hope we win the game," Taylor said. "It is going to take all of us working hard and playing together."

Jenkins said the team uses the I, veer, spread and other formations to run their offensive playbook. He said the team uses 4-3 and 5-3 defensive schemes.

Jenkins, who has been coaching for 16 years, also said he and his assistant coaches, brothers Brad Hutchinson and Kenzon Hutchinson, stress the importance to their players of getting good grades.

"The atmosphere here is not just about winning, it is also about school," Jenkins said. "We tell them all the time that if they get good grades in school, everything else will come after that.

"Football is just for fun, but their grades are what is important."

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