LEBANON — Xenia can add another nickname to its list.
In addition to the City of Hospitality, and the Bicycle Capital of the Midwest, it can now be called the City of Youth Football Champions.
In dominating, wire-to-wire fashion, the Wee Bucs fifth grade white team won the Gem City Youth Conference Gem City Bowl Saturday at Jim VanDeGrift Stadium in Lebanon, beating the Huber Heights red team, 30-0. It is believed to be the first league title for any Wee Bucs team.
Dominating may not be a strong enough word. In finishing 9-0 this season, the Wee Bucs surrendered just six points — coming on a fourth down play in the final minute of a playoff game — and won their six regular-season games by an average of 25-0. In the playoffs, the Wee Bucs won, 25-6, 32-0, and 30-0.
Oh yeah. One other thing.
The Wee Bucs were outsized by almost every team they played, including the championship opponent.
“Really our whole year, every team is basically bigger than us,” said quarterback Gage Stephan. “But we have more speed. Most of our linemen are also really fast. Our speed (determines) a lot of how we do on defense and offense too. I think we played, overall, real good.”
Added Cameron Bradley, “It feels good. Amazing.”
Teammate Jaxon Austin said the Wee Bucs peaked at the right time.
“I think we played our best game of the season, right here, right now,” he said.
That was evident from the start as the Wee Bucs scored early and often and were rarely threatened on defense. On offense, they moved the ball with ease.
“Our defense starts with the coaches, D-line,” Stephan said. “Overall we have a lot of good talent on this defense, offense, everything really.”
That talent level has Head Coach Brian Stephan excited for the present and future of Xenia football.
“I just think this is really neat,” he said. “It shows we have a bright future in football. I’m just really happy for everybody. It’s just really neat to see everybody come together and play for a common goal. They played really, really well. It’s just really neat to see them do it.
The coach added that everything the Wee Bucs did, they did as a team. Case in point, Gage Stephan had a 78-yard TD run late in the game. He barely took any credit.
“i just ran,” he said. “The line, our backs, recievers blocked amazing on that and I just found the hole and I ran.”
The fourth grade team also went for a championship but lost, 28-12, to the Lebanon white team, to finish 6-3.
Despite trailing much of the game, the Wee Bucs never quit, and Head Coach Freddie Williams made sure the team stayed positive the whole time, encouraging them to keep their heads up and to keep trying.
“I want to start off by saying thank you to my entire football family on an amazing season,” Williams said. “The players, coaches, cheerleaders, cheer advisors, parents and board members. Without a great effort from all involved we wouldn’t have been able to play this season and achieve what we did in the pandemic. Although the game didn’t turn out the way we wanted, we learned valuable lessons about sticking together as a team and that loss is a part of life and sports that is difficult. We had an amazing season and achieved a lot of things that will help move us forward in a positive manner in life.”
Like Brian Stephan, Williams is excited for what’s to come.
“Obviously we wanted to win the game and that didn’t work out, but our boys showed up and represented the city in a way everyone from Xenia can be proud,” he said. “The future is extremely bright for these young men and women, and I’m excited to continue with them on their journey as they grow into the next generation of players and cheerleaders who go out under the lights on Friday nights. I want to make sure I congratulate our fifth grade Xenia white team on an amazing season they capped off with a championship and further highlight the great things to come from the kids of this city.”
After a season-opening loss, the Wee Bucs won, 31-12, 20-0, and 18-6, and then ended the regular season with a 6-0 win. The Wee Bucs allowed just 44 points — 7.3 per game — in the regular season. That included an 18-6 win over the Lebanon white team.
Members of the fifth grade white team are Colton Albertini, Jaxon Austin, Jeremiah Ball, Gabe Bowman, Kyle Bowman, Cameron Bradley, Anthony Cassanio, Gavin Climie, Preston Fouts, Max Greene, Kaleb Hise, Sebastain Hoagland, Brody McManes, Sonny Mounts, Brody Seitz, Gage Stephan, Uriah Thomas, Tyler Thompson, Matthew Van Dyne, and Kameron Williams.
Coaches are Stephan, Joe Hoagland, Javon Hammonds, Steve Seitz, Nate Climie, Josh Van Dyne, and Mark Niswander.
Cheerleaders are Kennedy Cox, Kylie Doyle, Anna Hopson, Isabella Johnson, and Madelynn Ladd.
The team mom is Rachel Thompson.
Members of the fourth grade team are Uriah Brown, Kayde Butler, Corey Cline, Brylan Creditt, Jordan Evans, Gage Faulkner, Brayson Gearing, Jeremiah Goodrum, Amauri Gregory, Emmet Gulley, Conner Howard, Kaeden Howard, Marqus Keller, Adrian Lanier, Grayson Leverance, Kaine Lewis, Sawyer Lockwood, Greyson McClanahan, Cayden Palmer, Rylan Rhonemus, Darius Rutherford, Masiya Starks, and Jamison Williams.
Coaches are Head Coach Freddie Williams, Andy Lewis, Trevon Caldwell, Kenny Keller, Sam Lockwood, and Steven Spears.
Cheerleaders are Azure Davis, Madilynn Dean, Megan Grooms, Ali Hoskins, Haylynn Mickle, Alexandria Norflett, Keylee Norflett, Addison Patterson, Loralei Pierce, Olivia Smith, Natalie Stewart, Ava Wirth, and Rori Wisecup.
The team mom is Cheri Lockwood.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.