As the snowflakes drifted down Tuesday night, local youths geared up and put on their helmets. They played with heart and emotion, knowing that only one team would be champion.
The Redskins, Colts, Tigers, Raiders, Broncos and Steelers were gathered at Woodbury Sports Complex for the Doak Walker Tackle Football League standings playoff games.
Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike explained that the standings playoffs were a way for teams to play against other teams that are at a similar level. So the team with the best record will play the team with the next best record, and so on.
The fifth- and sixth-graders on the field were led by volunteer coaches, who spent a season planning, strategizing and having fun teaching area youths the ins and outs of the game.
"The kids had a good time this season," Raiders coach Jarrod Ogden said.
The Raiders, who are sponsored by Grounds Crew, lit up the end zone on Tuesday night, defeating the Masterworks Mechanical Broncos, 26-2. The Broncos were coached by Norm Yoast and Chris Spencer, while the Raiders were coached by Ogden and Josh Magnuson.
But it wasn't the scoreboard that mattered. To many, it was the experience and learning opportunities that provided the most enjoyment.
"I learned to not be afraid of who's hitting you," said John Loper, a member of the Raiders.
Loper said he also learned what it really meant to be a football player, thanks to his coaches.
"Hopefully the kids learned something," Ogden said.
Other Doak Walker action included the 7-0 Redskins against the 6-1 Hayden Tigers.
The gridiron grit and the intensity of the game even got to one of the coaches, who had a few words with the officials.
Hayden came out hot and stayed that way, while the Redskins started a little slow. And in the end, victory belonged to the Tigers, who tirelessly blocked and tackled their way to a 35-18 decision.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.