Rock Hill's 10-year-old Pee Wee all-stars play for the Upper State championship today at Abbeville. The winner earns a spot in the Dec. 13th state finals to be played at District Three Stadium.
The team is coached by Eric Mitchell, who said his team's strength is its defense. They have only allowed six points in three games and have two consecutive shutouts leading up to today's clash.
The team has beaten Chester and Tega Cay. They beat Lancaster, 6-0 in overtime, on Nov. 25. Vincent Emmanuele scored the game-winning touchdown for Rock Hill to help his team advance to the Upper State game.
Mitchell said he has 25 kids who leave everything they have on the field.
"They ain't got to be the best athlete, just have a lot of heart, be strong physically and mentally," Mitchell said.
The team has won the last two state titles. Mitchell wore a sweatshirt at Wednesday night's practice at Hargett Park that read '2007 Pee Wee Football State Champions' to prove it. The kids have been practicing hard under the lights five days a week.
But the 10-year-olds aren't the only ones enjoying success. Three other age groups are also playing for Upper State honors today.
The 12-year-old all-stars also play in Abbeville while the 9- and 11-year-old teams play in Columbia.
Six of Mitchell's kids played for the 9-year-old state championship team last year.
"At this level, they are learning the fundamentals of football," Mitchell said. "I have a good offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. I just oversee things."