As the football fields at Woodbury Sports Complex fill up today for the final games of the fifth- and sixth-grade Doak Walker youth football league season, uniforms in various color combinations will be visible: blue and yellow, yellow and black, purple and white.
But, to find the biggest game of the day, you only need to look for one color scheme.
Orange and black.
Or, black and orange, depending on what town you call home.
The first-place Bengals will take on the second-place Hayden Tigers at 5:15 p.m. today for the Doak Walker championship.
“It’ll be just like playing another Hayden team,” said Hayden coach Chris Carson, of the team’s similar uniforms and names.
But, the teams have more than that in common.
The two groups have each dominated in every game they’ve played this season, with the exception of when they played each other.
The Tigers were shut out, 20-0, on Sept. 7 by the Bengals, who had a perfect 6-0 mark on the season.
The Bengals have been the juggernaut of the Doak Walker league, scoring no fewer than two touchdowns every game.
But, at 5-1, Hayden has also been a strong presence, winning their first two games 32-12 and 37-12.
“We’re going to be focusing on defense,” Carson said. “But, we’ve also tweaked our offense so that we can catch them by surprise. The Bengals have a great defense.”
Bengals coach Mark Balderston agreed that his team’s defensive presence on the field has been their strong point. He added that Hayden’s comparable defensive ability kept the Bengals at a standstill in their first game, when the two teams were tied at 0 at halftime.
“When you look at the stats of our season, we’ve scored our most points in the second half, fourth quarter predominately,” Balderston said. “I’m expecting a real tight game, real back-and-forth.”
Carson said he expects the game to be much like the last Bengals/Tigers matchup, but added that his players have learned from their mistakes.
“They’re extremely focused,” he said. “We’re planning on playing ‘no mistakes’ football. We’ll be making all our handoffs and passes nice and clean.”
Bengals center Toryn Hume said he feels excited but nervous about the game. The 10-year-old said the memory of the last game against the Tigers makes it easier to be confident.
“It makes it a little better, but not much,” he said. “They’ve beat the other teams pretty good.”
For Bengals quarterback Mikey Bingham, 12, the game will be special no matter what, as it will be his last playing Doak Walker before moving on to the Craig Middle School team.
Still, he wants to continue the undefeated season.
“It’ll feel good to win,” Bingham said. “Really good.”