By Steve Crawford
After a great year of football and all of the post season combines, 7 on 7 and speed and agility camps, we are now closing in on what we all love; football! With that being said, one of my favorite leagues and arguably the best run league around The American Youth Football League aka AYFL will be starting Spring football the first week of May so my competitive juices and just love for the game is rising by the thought of the games and fan interaction. Well, here is my breakdown of what to expect this season as followed:
Top divisions this year are the 120's and 135's with the usual suspects at the top of the Super Bowl pecking order. At the 120's division any Super Bowl conversations must start with the 2-time defending Super Bowl Champions Weston Warriors who will be led by Coach David Detmer. Weston reminds me of those Big Ten teams that play such physical, smart, tough football sort of like that Ohio State team that beat (controversially) UM in the 2002 National Championship game. Not overly fast but just so disciplined.
After Weston, PPO Bengals 120's which arguably were the most talented team will be led by Coach Johnny O but will have Stanford "Bootsie" Samuels II (Florida State Seminoles, NFL and CFL experience) assisting him this year with the talented Anthony "P'nut" Johnson and Stanford "Lil Bootsie" Samuels III being key contributor on that team. PPO also has some very talented kids returning and some huge off season additions coming. Other key teams in that division will be West Pines Wildcats who are the back to back Super Bowl Runners up but are adding a new coaching staff and some key talent coming over from SFYFL along with an already talented team. The rest of the division should be tough led by Cooper City Cowboys, Pasadena Panthers and Sunrise Gators should all be vastly improved. Cooper City is a darkhorse team to watch out for especially if Coach Rocky gets that team.
The 135's division should be fun to watch and look for Plantation Wildcats the defending Super Bowl Champions from 120's who pulled off the major upset beating PPO to contend and try to defend their title. PPO Bengals with a group of kids who have not lost a regular season game since they've been together looking for redemption after two back to back devastating and surprising loses in the big game. They will be coached by last year's 135 Super Bowl Winning Coach Lance Rigby and his talented staff and should be exactly what that team needs to win it all. Pasadena Panthers depending on if those kids play in their right age group could be the darkhorse team in the division and Cooper City whose very talented, Boca Jets and Coconut Creek Eagles should be in the running.
The rest of the AYFL key divisions should be 90's with Northeast Rebels the defending PW's champions adding more talent to an already stacked team competing against PPO Bengals, Pasadena Panthers and Boca Jets. 100 pound division should see a rematch of the big game with Cooper City Cowboys going against the very talented PPO team with the darkhorse teams being Pasadena and West Pines. 110's should be West Pines Wildcats who had a major injury which kept them out of a Super Bowl appearance against Coral Springs Chargers who are the defending champs and we cannot count out PPO led by Patrick Surtain Jr and some key new additions to that team should make them an early Super Bowl Contender.
Finally, the PW's is always unknown but expect PPO, Pasadena and Plantation to compete for the title. Now, lastly the big boys, the Unlimited division will all depend on Terry "The Man-Child" Jeudy at Coral Springs. If Terry comes back, write them in the game. However, expect PPO to be fully reloaded with some new talent coming in and the young kids moving up and Coach Rich being the sheriff in that division. Cooper City is always competitive and expect them to compete and finally darkhorse is Pasadena Panthers which if the rumors are true will be coached by Devin Bush and Ryan Collins who may bring back another man-child Devante who helped them win back to back titles at 105 and 120 but played last year at Gwen Cherry 165's. Pasadena will be young but expect Devin to bring in some talent.