Syracuse-Based Youth Football Team Headed Back to the National Championship Syracuse-Based Youth Football Team Headed Back to the National Championship

SYRACUSE, N.Y.(NCC NEWS) – To those familiar with the sport, the indoor youth football practice pictured above might look a little odd.

Usually, the boys of fall are practicing outside on the token turf or grass field that almost every high school in America has, especially at the youth level. But the Salt City Renegades 9u and 11u teams get the privilege of running through plays inside- they’ve made history. They’ll be playing football in December for the second year in a row.

“It’s honestly a big deal, we were the first team ever to make it to nationals from central New York last year, and it’s pretty extraordinary to make it back again this year.” said coach Justin Kozlowski. 

Kozlowski started the program just three years ago, and it’s now grown to six football teams and four cheer teams. 

Two of those teams will be headed to Naples, Florida to compete in the AYL national championship.

Kozlowksi outlined the tough competition awaiting the Renegades, saying “There’s teams from California, Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, and Massachusetts… it’s pretty real.”

But he has confidence in his guys. “Seeing them play against these big states is pretty amazing. When you think about it, these guys from little Syracuse are competing, and it’s awesome,” said Kozlowski.

That confidence is shared by the young athletes themselves. Eleven-year-old Elonzo Wilson Jr. was short and to the point when I asked how he felt about making it back to the national championship, saying “I feel good, I feel good because we’re going to go win it again.”

Wilson Jr. later echoed the underdog mentality of the team being from a smaller city like Syracuse, saying “A lot of teams really doubted us, but we’re coming back… we’re coming back for it again.”

The Renegades are expecting a few big games from him. “I’m going to go for two touchdowns. Two.”

Although it’s easy to focus solely on the games ahead, Kozlowksi is making sure to paint the big picture. “I don’t think they’ll recognize it until they’re my age, but for them to win a national championship and play at a national scale is remarkable… they’re great kids.”

Related Articles