Pictured are the 5/6 Grade Tigers vs Pirates
It takes a village to raise a child. But it takes a village, volunteers, and entire communities to build and maintain a Little League program. With all of the craziness faced in 2020, Little League football could have been an activity on the cutting block. The biggest obstacles faced was COVID restrictions and low numbers for many teams. But with the hard work and sacrifices put forth by countless volunteers, the young men, and women who had aspirations of playing football this season were not let down.
There were hiccups though. The Greenland Pirates were forced to concede before the beginning of the season. West Fork was unable to host the WCFL Jamboree. Magazine couldn’t round up enough players for a 3rd and 4th Grade team. Lavaca had a rough time getting to play on their home field for week one. Yes, there were setbacks, but the WCFL board members, program coaches, and countless volunteers all stepped up to do the best they could to remedy those issues. Magazine was able to play a few 8Man games with their 3rd and 4th Grade against conference and non-conference teams. Lavaca and JC Westside came together to get Lavaca to play week one at JC Westside instead of Lavaca. The West Fork Jamboree was granted an extension to host the Jamboree in 2021. Although Greenland was unable to play, rest assured they will be twice as pumped and ready for the 2021 season. Everything wasn’t perfect by no means, but football was played and boy howdy, was it some dang good football played.
There were some really close games each week as programs jockeyed their way towards the top. Games like the 3rd and 4th Grade West Fork vs Cedarville that ended with a 2-0 Tigers win, JC Westside’s 5th and 6th Grade edging out Mountainburg 8-6, and the epic Treasure Chest Rivalry game where Cedarville’s 3rd and 4th Grade pulled off a 26-20 upset over the Dragons were just a few great matches during the regular season. The competition was stiff all season up to the final week of regular season where the league saw a fourth-place tie in the 5th and 6th Grade division between Mountainburg and Cedarville on rivalry week in which the Dragons were victorious in a close 12-8 victory. The 3rd and 4th Grade division had a tie for 2nd place between Hackett and Mountainburg while also having a three-way tie for 5th place between West Fork, Lavaca, and Cedarville. There was only one program this season that didn’t have representation going into the playoffs. To say that the programs of the WCFL were as competitive as ever in the 2020 season would be an understatement.
In the end, it came down to three programs in the WCFL Championship games. It was a “Dragons, Tigers, and Pirates OH MY” WCFL Championship. The #1 seeded Mansfield Tigers and #2 seeded Mountainburg Dragons faced off for the second year in a row to repeat their 2019 season in the 3rd and 4th Grade division. In the 5th and 6th Grade division, the #5 seeded Cedarville Pirates surprised everyone by surging through the playoffs beating #4 Mountainburg and upsetting #2 West Fork to make their way to their first 5th and 6th Grade Championship game to face the #1 seeded Mansfield Tigers. It would be a North vs South Championship day on Saturday, November 14th in the hosting town of Mountainburg.
The Mansfield Tigers ran away with the day taking home both Championships becoming the first program to make a Championship sweep in WCFL history. The Tigers 3rd and 4th Grade game was made of sugar, spice, and SPEED as the game’s MVP Colton Nelson showcased that tiny players can make big plays. Nelson caught a midair bad snap that went over the quarterbacks head and took it for a big yardage gain, picked up his own fumble to score on one play, and scored three of the Tigers four touchdowns in the game. The fourth score was tacked onto the scoreboard by Layton “Powerhouse” Pyles who not only made great offensive plays but stuck it to Dragon runners on defense with some big hits in the game as well. Mansfield won the game 28-0 to end their season undefeated and earn their third consecutive 3rd and 4th Grade WCFL Championship. The Mountainburg Dragons earned the WCFL Runner-Up trophy for the second consecutive year showing that the program is growing to be one of the best in the league. The Dragons only lost three games this season. One to rivals Cedarville on the final week of regular season and twice to the Tigers.
The 5th and 6th Grade game was nearly a repeat of the regular-season match between Mansfield and Cedarville. That game ended with a 20-0 win by the Tigers and Mansfield did it just 4 points better as they defeated the Pirates 24-0 to earn Mansfield their first 5th and 6th Grade WCFL Championship. The Tigers used their triple threat titans to own the game as Gunner Williams, Cordell Stone, and Hunter Whittaker sailed through the Pirates defense for most of the game. The Pirates held their own against the potent Tiger offense in the first half though only allowing one score. Unfortunately, the Pirates couldn’t hold back the red wave as the Tigers continued crashing into Cedarville through the second half scoring twice more to end the game 24-0. Mansfield didn’t make the playoffs in 2018, finished Runner-Up in 2019, and now have claimed Championship gold. Cedarville’s 5th and 6th Grade didn’t make the playoffs in 2019 but fought hard all the way to the Championship and now have their very first WCFL trophy to place in their treasure chest.
WCFL President, Adam Hecox stated “The games were great to watch. Every player, coach, and fan should be very proud of their program. Those kids laid it all out in their games. The good Lord kept the storms away long enough to play both games without a drop of rain so that was a huge bonus. I was thoroughly impressed with Mountainburg’s hospitality at the Championship games. Although I do not know the announcer’s name, that guy was by far one of the best around at the job. He had fans on both sides of the field standing up and cheering on their programs. He definitely deserves some props for that. Poor Brooks Blanton (Mountainburg WCFL Representative) was running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to help concession, getting the lights turned on, run the chain gang, and handing out trophies at the end of the games. Kudos to Brooks for all of his work. We even had great referees who were down to earth with the kids. Late in the 5th and 6th Grade game after Mansfield scored, I heard one of the referees tell the Cedarville defense to keep their heads up and keep going because it ain’t over yet. I can’t say enough about the adults that surround all of our players in this league. They’re all top-notch people in my book.”
In its three year existence, the WCFL has seen Mansfield run the Championship gauntlet in the 3rd and 4th Grade division while the 5th and 6th Grade division has had a new Champion each year (Hackett in 2018, Magazine in 2019, and Mansfield in 2020). Each program seems to be getting better each season too. The goal of the WCFL founders was to create a competitive league for small-town football teams and to date, that goal has been proven to be a positive for each and every program involved with the league. None of this could have been done though without the countless volunteers and coaches in our communities. The WCFL 2020 season also wouldn’t have been as successful through all of this year’s obstacles without the hard work of the WCFLs Board whose members consist of the following representatives:
Josh Scott – Representative of the Magazine Rattlers
Clay Bryant – Representative of the JC Westside Rebels
David Moore – Representative of the Mansfield Tigers
Taylor Genz – Representative of the West Fork Tigers
Aaron Lanning – Representative of the Cedarville Pirates
Brooks Blanton – Representative of the Mountainburg Dragons
Stormy Swinson – Representative of the Greenland Pirates
Kevin Stiles – Representative of the Hackett Hornets
Allana Brunson – Representative of the Lavaca Golden Arrows
Game pictures courtesy of Joanna James