MARIETTA, Ga. – The Cambridge Bears sixth-grade feeder football team made it to the state championships Nov. 23 before losing to Rome 16-36.
For such a young team – not even three years old – making it to the championship for the first time can only be described as a big deal.
“It was a big deal for [the team],” said head coach John McHale.
The Bears seemed to rumble over their competition in the championship. They handily beat Harrison 36-6 and shut out Etowah 46-0. McEachern managed six points but still fell to Cambridge’s 18.
The final was no different. At first.
“We came out strong,” McHale said. “We marched right down the field and scored on the third play.”
That rush quickly reversed when what should have been a touchdown a few plays later was stripped from the team due to an illegal man on the field.
“We should have been up 16-nothing,” McHale said. “That took the wind out of us.”
Despite that, McHale said his boys played well.
“The offensive line did fantastic as well as the entire defense, as much as they could,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we had a pretty good season,” he said. “We were kind of unknown and a lot of people underestimated us.”
There are 46 boys on the team and 130 kids in the overall feeder program.
Given how many students of Cambridge initially went to Milton schools, there is a rivalry between the two North Fulton regions.
“Milton and Cambridge will be the biggest rivalry out there,” McHale said. “We all coached with each other, against each other.”
Many of the players and coaches went through the Alpharetta Youth Football Association (AYFA) at North Park.
Milton beat Cambridge in the regular season, and McHale said his team dedicated themselves to facing Milton again, this time in the championship.
While the Bears did make the finals, Milton was knocked out a game earlier. Another game was not in the cards this season, but coming second in the state is something McHale can live with.
“Next time, we’ll win the championship,” he said.