The Northwestern sixth-grade football team is on a serious winning streak, as the team of talented players has been undefeated for two years.
The last time the Tigers lost was during its third-grade season. Currently, the team has 19 players, returning the same 15 to 17 core players each year. Undefeated since fourth-grade, the team’s record is a reflection of the players’ camaraderie, according to Coach Scott Robinson.
“I think it’s the caring for one another. As cliché as maybe that sounds, I know that they want to win, and winning is important. We talk about winning as a big deal, but I really think that when we get right down to it what makes them successful is they all know their jobs. They all know if they each do their jobs, they will be successful,” Robinson said.
Additionally, Head Coach Jason Braden and Coach Scott Robinson said the coaches have preached the importance of family to the players, both on and off the field, which they also attributed to the team’s success.
“Our big thing is family. We talk about that every day. We’re family, and we win and we lose together. We do things together,” Robinson said. “We talk about what it takes to be a man … If we see something happening that’s not right in the world, then it’s our job as men and it’s our job as family to make it right. We preach that stuff, and I think that has taken on a mind of its own with our boys, not only on the football field but in the classroom and at recess that part of being a man is doing the right thing and doing the hard thing … I think these boys have really kind of taken to that and been successful maybe because of some of that teaching.”
The Tigers play six regular-season ball games following with a west and east championship division. The team is currently a top team in its division and on its way to a third consecutive championship. Northwestern currently has a couple of shutouts under its belt after the fourth game. Last week, the Tigers defeated one of its biggest rivals, Eastern, in a head-to-head game, 26-20. The Comets were one of Northwestern’s losses in third grade and have fallen short to the Tigers ever since.
Northwestern watches film, keeps stats, and draws in large crowds as if it was the varsity. Robinson said the coaches treat the program seriously, and Braden said it was a blessing to have players who respond with the same mentality.
“It’s a lot for the boys. They don’t complain. They’re always willing to learn … I’ve got six coaches that are committed to the program, committed to them getting better. I think us coaches have been blessed since the third grade for having such wonderful kids,” Braden said.
The Tigers offensive line consists of center Ozzy Pipenger and two big offensive tackles, Eli Grzegorski and Keaton Ropes. Robinson’s son, Aiden Robinson, plays quarterback for the Tigers and has great leadership skills on offense, Braden said.
“Aiden Robinson, as a quarterback, he’s done a phenomenal job in being a leader. He’s one of our captains. He’s done a phenomenal job at understanding how the offense is run. All the kids really look up to him as a leader,” Braden said. “I know leading up to [last week’s] game, he had already passed for close to over 300 yards in passing offense … I know he’s passed for quite a few touchdowns.”
Playing wide receiver is Nolan Tarrh. Although the second-smallest Tiger on the team, he is probably the best all-around player on the team, according to Robinson. Additionally, Aiden Giles adds to the team with athletic ability and “God-given talent.” Joining the team last year at wide receiver is Josh Miller and move-in from Kokomo AJ Jackson at running back, who joined the team two years ago.
Defensively, Braden’s son, Austin Braden, plays at middle linebacker. Griffen Miller, the smallest boy on the team, also plays at middle linebacker but isn’t afraid to play with the big boys, Robinson said. Bradyn Wilson is the most versatile player on the team, playing at wide receiver, offensive line, and defensive line. Brayden Johns plays at defensive corner and has blossomed as a player this season, according to Robinson.
“Last year [Wilson] didn’t play a ton, and this year he’s a starter and is just doing really, really well. It’s kind of hit him that football is something that he can do and do well. It’s nice to see those kinds of kids really get the bug that football is fun, and they’re going to do great things in the future,” Robinson said.
Although the previously-mentioned players were currently the core group of players who carry the team, Robinson said the Tigers still would not be as successful without everyone on the roster.
Robinson, a former star quarterback for Northwestern who led the varsity Tigers to the 1992 championship game under direction of his father, Dan Robinson, said this group of boys reminds him a lot of his championship runner-up team.
“I’ve been around football my entire life. My dad was a coach for 30 years. I played college ball … I was the quarterback when we went to the state championship. This team reminds me a lot of that team in the fact that we’ve got the talent to make a deep run as these guys get older … The future is really, really bright at Northwestern,” Robinson said.