Fresh off their national championship, Thunder (a younger Thunder) head coach Alan Money reflected back on what he called an "intense" and "nerve-racking" final game in Florida last week.
Money's Thunder, which plays in the Junior Midget Division, finished their season 15-0 after squeaking out a win against the Fox Rok Ravens from Philadelphia, 20-16.
"It was even closer than the score indicated," Money said. "It was an amazing game, and it was such a relief when it came to an end."
The Thunder came out strong in the first quarter, building a 14-0 lead. The next two and a half were dominated by the larger and faster Ravens, Money said. But their defense held strong and didn't give up a single point after halftime.
"We came out with fire and full of emotion in that first quarter," he said. "Then our defense took over. Their kids were so fast they could have broke open the game at any minute."
With five minutes to go in the game, the Thunder punched in their final touchdown and closed out a perfect season.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win a state championship, and then we got to nationals and we had to reassess," Money said. "We had two goals: to fulfill their assignments and to get nasty. The kids did both."
To send the players and their families, $35,000 was donated by local businesses and families.
Another good thing, Money said, is that these kids, ages 12 and 13, will be going to Desert Vista High School next year.
"This team has been building for five years and we are very proud what we are going to send them to DV," he said.
The tournament MVP was B.J. Murphy, who had four interceptions and four touchdowns. Nick Thomas was the quarterback for the Thunder, who also had Johnny Johnson, an All-American, as running back. Chad Porter led the defense with 12 tackles in the championship game.
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