Terry Gaylor coached with a heavy heart this season.
The Friendsville midgets skipper lost his wife Judy to multiple sclerosis in April, her passing coming after 37 years of marriage. Gaylor said he never once considered taking some time away from coaching.
"Its been a life-saver, really," he said. "When you work with kids, you get so involved with them you get so much joy. It keeps you focusing on the positive and not the negative."
Gaylors players gave him more than championship last Saturday at Heritage High School. Friendsville held off Alcoa, 14-13, in the American League championship game of the Recreation & Parks Commission Super Bowl. After taking possession of the championship trophy at midfield, the Falcons turned to find their coach.
"The two captains walked over and handed him the trophy and said, This is for your wife," Recreation & Parks youth director Brook Hemphill said. "It broke everybody down."
As the final seconds ticked away, Gaylor said he thought of his late wife.
"She was on my mind the last two minutes of the ball game," he said. "The kids dedicated it to her and they fought their butts off all year."
Friendsville got a 13-yard run from Logan York and a 3-yard scamper from Greg Cook for its touchdowns. Terrell Warren raced 55 yards for one of Alcoas two scores, his first quarter touchdown giving the Tornadoes a 7-0 lead. York answered for Friendsville in the second, with Cook finding the end zone in the third.
Falcon place-kicker Tim Green would prove the difference, his 2-point conversion kick following the York providing the winning edge after Friendsville stopped an Alcoa conversion inside the final minute. Jaleel Green had the touchdown run.
Fairview 12, Friendsville 0
The Raiders blanked Friendsville in the American League Pee Wee championship game behind the playmaking and scoring of Brandon Cockrell.
The Fairview standout ran 60 yards for all the points the Raiders in the first quarter. Before the half, Cockrell was back for more, this time finding points on the end of a Jake Long 12-yard pass.
Pee Wee Super Bowl
Maryville Southerners 20, Alcoa 6
Shawn Prevo is a name to watch in coming years.
The Southerners running back ran for close to 100 yards, finding the end zone from 15 yards. John Garretts 1-yard run plunge, with Cody Carrolls following conversion, accounted for all the points Maryville would need in leading 7-6 at the half.
In the second half, Southerners coach Joey Winders turned repeatedly to Prevo to exhaust the time.
"We challenged our line at halftime," Winders said. "We felt we were getting whipped. We challenged our line to take over. We changed our blocking schemes at halftime and Shawns a tough runner."
Winders words at halftime were well-chosen, Prevo said.
"In the first half, it seemed like we were going to lose," he said. "In the second half, our coaches talked to us and we were excited."
Prevos scoring came during the third quarter of play. He would run for the conversion as well. Austin Haworth found the end zone for Maryville from 2 yards in the fourth. Alcoas Brenden Teeter had opened the scoring with a 1-yard run in the first quarter.
"I think Maryvilles discipline won out in the end," Alcoa coach Jimmy McBrayer said. "Theyre a well-coached team. They dont make mistakes."
Midget Super Bowl
Maryville Rebs 20, Fairview Raiders 0
Youll be hearing about Jacob West.
The only question is, on which side of the ball.
"I like defense better. You get to hit them," the Rebs standout said after scoring each of Maryvilles touchdowns in the afternoons finale.
West scored on runs of 11, 1 and 75 yards in powering the Rebs to the completion of an unblemished 10-0 season. During the run, the Maryville defense has given up only six points, with Friendsville accounting for the only touchdown.
"Id say thats a pretty good season," Rebs lineman Tim Koons said during Maryvilles postgame huddle.
The Rebs claimed coach Don Sentells 24th championship with the win and extended Maryvilles current win streak to 20 games.
"This is an exceptional year for skill people," Sentell said. "Defensively, weve given up six points this year. We figure were just as good as the 34th man on our team.
"(The championships), all thats good, but thats not what its all about. Its the kids. I love working with the kids."
This fall marked Sentells 43rd season as the Rebs coach. A sense of legacy has done much to keep the program strong, he said.
"Ive got kids playing for me today whose daddies played for me," Sentell said. "Weve got cheerleaders whose moms cheered for us.
"We dont have anything to prove. We just love working with the kids.