The Arcadia Titans Youth Football Club is celebrating two state championships for the 2019 season. The club’s 11u team won their 5th consecutive state championship, and the 13u team won their 2nd state championship in a row.
The club was started back in 2016 by Jerry Connelly, Michael Cummings and Bryan “Smitty” Smith. At the time, there were no opportunities for the youth in the neighborhood to play tackle football. The men put their heads together and created the club for children ages 9 to 14 to learn the ins-and-outs of football and participate in games and championships.
“Our goal is to teach our kids the proper way to play, discipline, hard work, learn how to compete, and never quit. If they want to play high school football they will be prepared and way ahead of other kids,” said head coach Connelly.
Teams are divided by weight and age. For example, the 11u team has 11-year-olds under 125 pounds, 10-year-olds under 105 pounds, and by exception, 9-years-olds might also be added to the roster. Teams are usually made up of 15-18 children.
“This program has been an incredible opportunity for these boys over the last five seasons. Many of them have played together in flag football since they were 5 years old,” said coach Ben Ashley. “It has taught them to put the team before themselves…they have learned to protect each other, pick up competitors on the field when they are down and win with grace.”
During the 2019 season, practices started in early February and the teams got together three times a week.
“We have several former college football players and high school coaches on our staff, so practices are run like a high school practice,” said Connelly. “There’s a brief warm-up with practice usually broken up into five 15-minute segments of fundamentals and drills and then about 20 minutes of live scrimmage.”
Connelly said that each group plays a regular season, and then the top eight teams advance to a playoff game. There is a single game elimination to determine who goes to the state championship.
Although the program is not run in conjunction with the high schools in the area, the club hopes to establish a relationship with them in the coming year so that they can add more coaching staff.
“We have kids going to Brophy, Saguaro, Chaparral and Arcadia, and at the end of the day they have their own priorities. But if we can send 15 to 20 kids a year to Arcadia to help turn the program around, that would be great,” said Connelly.
During the season, teams play around six to seven games and must win three in the playoffs in order to enter the championship.
During the fall season, the club had three teams and succeeded in winning 24-2. The 11u team won the state championship with a score of 27-0 against the Red Mountain Devils.
“The 11u team only gave up six points all year. In the last five seasons the team has gone 43-2,” said Connelly.
The 13u team finished the season overall at 9-0, winning their championship 35-28 in overtime over the West Valley Nightmare.
The 12u team, which was created this past season, finished 6-1 and became the No. 3 seed in the tournament after losing in the semifinals to the Red Mountain Devils, who ultimately won their championship.
“When they make mistakes in practice, they self-manage, hold each other accountable and run together as a team. This is just one small example of the team’s exemplary coaching and leadership,” said Ashley. “They are now 44-2 in five seasons and I can honestly say that I truly believe this program has helped shape them into all-around better athletes, leaders and ultimately young men.”
After the championship games, the players celebrated their accomplishments with their parents and teammates. Games for the 2020 season will start in early March.
For more: arcadiatitansyouthfootballclub.com.