Willoughby Bigs 10U youth flag football team qualify for national tournament in Las Vegas – News-Herald

A group of boys who decided to play football together just for fun in kindergarten now head to one of America’s most entertaining cities to see if they’re good enough to win the title of national champions.

The Willoughby Bigs 10U football team won the championship at the NFL Cleveland Browns Flag Regionals tournament in Canton to qualify for the NFL Flag Nationals tournament in Las Vegas on Pro Bowl weekend Feb. 3-4.

The tournament will actually take place at Heritage Park in Henderson, Nevada, which is about 17 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, but it could still prove to be the experience of a lifetime.

“We were delighted (to win). It is truly an honor and an incredible opportunity. None of the kids have been to Las Vegas before,” coach Matt Osolin said. “They are all thrilled to have the opportunity to play for a national championship and to have the opportunity to attend such a star-studded event.”

Jack Kadlub, Anthony Keidel, Dylan Osolin, Jackson Davis, Merrik Zavodny, Noah Bizjak, Timmy Dunn and Tyler Demand claimed their age class trophy by sweeping the tournament with five straight wins, never giving up more than one TD out of three. all five games with two shutouts averaging 27 points on offense.

The players were all born and raised in Willoughby and have played together since kindergarten. Osolin said the boys on the team are all 11 years old, but qualifying for the 10U division is due in 2011.

The team has come a long way since kindergarten, and it has nothing to do with the distance between Willoughby and Las Vegas.

“When I decided to coach my son in flag football, I told Dylan to get all his friends from Grant Elementary to join the team. can play ball until high school, so let’s start building some chemistry now,” Osolin said. “To be honest, we really struggled for the first year or two. Despite these struggles, we decided that keeping the kids together was more important than winning.

“Eventually they started to understand,” he added. “The boys have changed. As we got more successful, we realized that our “best kid” on our team was a different kid every year. This is what brought us success. We are balanced. All the boys know each other, trust each other and enjoy playing together. It was the key to our success. »

The boys enjoyed success playing indoors at Lost Nation Sports Park, but won the regional outdoors, so Osolin is confident there won’t be any issues related to Nevada’s desert conditions.

“Until this year, our team has always played in spring, summer and winter,” Osolin said. “So we are well acclimated to various climates. The boys love to play, whatever the weather conditions. I don’t foresee any problems when it comes to the weather.

As far as expectations go, this isn’t purely a pleasure trip to a hot paradise in February. The Willoughby Bigs have worked hard and are ready to show the country what they can do best.

“We had a lot of success in the NEO Flag Football League, but we weren’t sure what to expect to grow beyond that. Parents and coaches were somewhat confident that we would do quite well among the other teams. The level of dominance this team showed was a nice surprise,” Osolin said.

“We have improved every day since our first practice in kindergarten. The boys are tight-knit, hard-working and extremely competitive. Their ceiling is unlimited. I like our chances in Vegas.

Taking the team to Las Vegas for four days presents a financial challenge for the families, and the coaches are looking for sponsors to help offset the cost of the trip.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team can contact coach Matthew Osolin at 440-487-5562, [email protected] Venmo: @evolutionkitchen.

About Betty J. Snyder

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