KINGMAN – There is more to being a Kingman Rebel than wearing a helmet, shoulder pads and a jersey. Every athlete knows it takes countless hours of preparation to be a member of the cadet squad.
“It’s just our slogan,” Morgan Quinn said. “‘Some wish for it. We work for it.’ When we work hard, we accomplish greatness. I wouldn’t be here without this team.”
Cannon Cobanovich and Taylor Sers share that belief, but no one could have imagined that all their hard work would take them where they are headed – The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“It’s great being from a small town like Kingman, Arizona and getting to play with the best,” Thomas Doxtader said. “I’m excited to show everyone what we Rebels can do.”
The Rebels went undefeated this season at 12-0, won a conference championship, regional championship and now will be one of eight teams in the country and the only Arizona squad to play in the “Game For Life” National Youth Football Championship in Ohio. The event, which is being tabbed, the “Little League World Series of youth football,” starts Friday, Dec. 15 and a win would allow the Rebels to move through the bracket for games Dec. 16-17.
Just when the Rebels thought their perfect season was over, the Hall of Fame came calling.
“It’s validating,” said head coach Daniel Carlson. “We joined American Youth Football to step up and challenge ourselves with competition outside of Kingman. After our undefeated season and being conference and regional champions, it’s incredible to see an organization like the Pro Football Hall of Fame National Youth Championship take notice of our hard work and accomplishments and consider us to be one of the best teams in the country.”
Dawrius Walema feels this experience means everything to him and he is happy to see all the hard work the team has put in all year paying off. Brayden Fuentes is excited to show the coaches how much the team appreciates all their work and wants to bring home a win for them and Kingman.
This team certainly has done great things, but would their undefeated, championship season be considered a greater accomplishment or would getting to play for the Game for Life? For coach Jeremy Feil, you can’t have one without the other.
“They are equal to me,” said Feil. “All the work and victory this season has led us to this point. This season earned us the chance to play in Canton.”
For Reilly Feil, meanwhile, going to this game is a greater accomplishment.
“There isn’t a bigger game than this for us,” he said. “This is going to be the best of the best.”
The rest of the team is also excited and ready to play. Following two weeks off, the Rebels are back on the practice field led by their coaching staff.
“The team just needs to focus on being explosive and play Rebel football,” said Jacob Godinez.
Nathan Cunningham and Eathen Galindo both say their coaches “push us to our limit” and “prepare us mentally and physically to be better than we were yesterday.”
The athletes, the coaches, and the league all agree this is a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids. Not only the football aspect, but getting to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” said coach Cory Cobanovich. “It’s great for these young athletes to visit the place that proves to them anything is possible with hard work and determination.”
The Rebels, which are in their first year as an organization, fly to Canton Wednesday and fans can follow the journey on Facebook at “Kingman Rebels.”
The team has organized a GoFundMe page as well as fundraisers throughout the community to help with the expenses for this once-in-a-lifetime chance.