The Ocoee Bulldogs Unlimited team beat the Reno Miners 42-12 in the Unlimited National Championship Game of the 2015 Pop Warner Super Bowl.
LAKE BUENA VISTA The Ocoee Bulldogs Unlimited team had no equal this fall.
The Bulldogs wrapped a perfect 16-0 season Dec. 12 by defeating the Reno (Nev.) Miners in the Unlimited National Championship Game of the 2015 Pop Warner Super Bowl, 42-12. The Unlimited division of Pop Warner Football is generally 14-and-under and has no weight restrictions.
After the two teams exchanged punts to open play, the Bulldogs' offense got going on its second drive — sparked by a touchdown pass from quarterback Timmy Sides to Lovie Jenkins — and the boys from Ocoee never looked book.
"We played fast and hard — our line was blocking hard and that set the tone," said running back Jadan Robinson, who scored two touchdowns. "This means everything to me. This is a once in a lifetime experience."
For Sides, who did not play on the Bulldogs' first offensive drive as Ocoee initially ran a single-wing set, completing a touchdown on his first drive helped set the tone for the day — a day that saw him toss three touchdowns in the first half.
"It was huge — I throw it to my receivers, they catch the ball and we get fired up," Sides said. "They're great. They make the whole game go better."
Ocoee led 22-0 at the half and it's defense proved crucial the rest of the way as Bulldogs got stops — and turnovers — when they need to.
"Defense, all year long, has been the strength of our team," head coach Jerry Middleton said. "We only gave up three touchdowns during the regular season. My kids are very smart with good football-I.Q.'s. They get to the ball and they play fast."
The Bulldogs were dominant over their six days at this fall's national tournament, winning their second and third games — against the Calumet City (Ill.) Thunderbolts and the Miners, respectively — by a combined 61 points.
The only time Ocoee struggled was in the first game of the tournament, an 18-12 win Dec. 6 against the Palm Bay Rockets. The Bulldogs had trailed 12-0 in the second half before mounting a comeback.
"The Palm Bay game, actually, made my team dial in even more," Middleton explained. "We were down by 12 with eight minutes left in the game and found a way to come back."
Afterward parents, family and friends celebrated with their undefeated champions and newly-elected Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson congratulated the team and invited them to the next city council meeting to be recognized for their achievement.
It is the first-ever national championship for the Bulldogs' organization and for the Mid-Florida Pop Warner Conference.
"I'm ecstatic man," Middleton said. "I'm happy for these kids because a lot of these kids have been playing Pop Warner Football since they were 5-years old. We love it."
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].