Raiders end dream season with National Championship
The 5/6 Rutherfordton Raiders had a season to remember in 2013.
These "Tiny Mites" not only won every game they played en route to a league championship and an 11-0 record, they left no doubt of their dominance outscoring opponents a combined 348-6.
And as assistant coach Andy Gibbon said, that lone score is credited as a "coaching mistake" made during the Raiders regular season game against Forest City.
Following their playoff wins that ended in a MACAYF conference title, the Raiders traveled to Knoxville, TN to compete in the 2013 Battle in Rocky Top tournament, a national tournament featuring over 300 teams in leagues ranging from 6-14 years old.
The Raiders opened the tournament Saturday in the first round with a 19-0 win over the Woodford County Yellow Jackets (KY) to set them up for a second-round showdown with the Tri-County Crush (Ohio) later the same day.
Rutherfordton handled the Crush easily for a 26-0 win and a spot in the quarterfinals against the Finneytown Wildcats (Ohio) on Sunday.
The Raiders continued to dominate with a convincing 30-0 win over Finneytown for the right to play in the championship game just three hours later against the Lexington Bulldogs (KY).
Continuing a season-long trend, the Raiders shut out the Bulldogs for a 16-0 win and the title of National Champions.
The Raiders finished the season with an unblemished 15-0 record outscoring opponents a combined 441-6.
"We had all the right ingredients to be a great team — athletes at every position, blinding team speed and field awareness that is rarely seen in 6-year-olds," Gibbon said.
Not to mention, the Raiders were coached by a man who's been around for a while, Heath McSwain.
"I've always coached soccer and base ball but McSwain runs a top-notch program, " Gibbon said of McSwain, who also runs the entire Rutherford ton Raiders organization. "He deserves a ton of recognition for this season."
McSwain and the rest of the coaching staff had a cabinet full of young athletes, but running back Da'Zirus Watkins.
"He doesn't even know how good he is," Gibbon said of Watkins. "He scored as many times as he got tackled."
The team's success is a product of special kids, coaches and parents. Gibbon wrote about this team:
"Congratulations, Radiers. You have given your teammates, families and this community something to be proud of. To win your league was an accomplishment, to win the battle in Rocky Top — a national tournament — is absolutely amazing.
2013 Rutherfordton Raiders Tiney Mites