February 23, 2018

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Closer To My Dreams: Bayou Teche Football

Saturday August 26, 2017 was a dream come true for a few young football players. During halftime of the Saints preseason game against the Houston Texans, two incredible youth football teams were given the opportunity to compete at the Superdome.

Bayou Teche Patriots 12u started in 2006 as a youth league with teams from Baldwin, Franklin, and Centerville. Throughout the years the number of participants started to decline. The coaches did not want to give up though; last year they decided to organize a youth travel team with the kids from the same areas.

Every year the NFL partners up with USA Football during its annual NFL Play 360 events. This year the Bayou Teche Patriots were selected to participate in this event after being referred by another organization, the New Iberia Broncos.

The Bayou Teche Patriots had to overcome some obstacles on their big day. On their way to New Orleans their bus broke down. Luckily their fans travel in packs. The team was able to split up and ride with their amazing support system. Despite that little mishap, the team made it to the superdome on time and ready to play! The team scrimmaged at 1 p.m. right after they checked in. The players had the opportunity to line up in front of both teams, the Saints and Texans, during the national anthem.

Then the moment they were all waiting for finally arrived. The Bayou Teche Patriots 12u competed against the New Iberia Broncos during halftime. They not only competed but victory was theirs with a score of 6-0. 11 year old J’kylon Caesar threw a 20 yard touchdown pass to 11 year old Jayshawn Johnson. Despite how nervous they were, these young players conquered their fears and proved not only to themselves but to all of their supporters that they belonged on that field Saturday night in front of 70,000 people.

Head coach Jazz Coleman was very proud of the kids and their parents because without their support this would have never been possible. Coleman stated “The vision and the goal is to give these kids unbelievable and memorable experiences while teaching life lessons. These kids are on the right path to a successful future”. Coach Robert Martin admitted to being excited and nervous after NFL player JJ Watt shook the coach’s hands and told them good luck. Coaches Ron Lewis and Majee Connor soaked up the experience of being in the superdome to watch the very kids they dedicate so much of their time to play football. Overall it was an unforgettable experience for them.

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Many people are not fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend an NFL game and for these young, talented boys from small towns like Baldwin, Franklin, and Centerville to have the chance to play on the very field that the Saints play on meant everything to them. This was a result of hard work, determination, dedication, and an exemplary coaching staff. Ultimately, this would not have happened without the referral from the New Iberia Broncos. Remember these organizations. They are the future.

To coaches like Jazz Coleman and everyone else that played a part in making this dream come true, thank you. Continue to do great things with these kids and the game of football.

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