First Row: TaeQarie Medley, Markese Young, Jeffrey Bell, Antoine Wilkins, Zhaykahrii Plater, Dylan Beaver and Na’Jae Reynolds. Second Row: Shawn Henderson, Akari Smith, Rossie Bell, Keith William, Josh Dennis, Karon Starks, Jace Raynor and Kaden Johnson. Third Row: Owen Hodack, Christian Hoyt, Jaden Underhill, David McNeil, Marsan Hughey, Jonathan Reed and Jayden Simpson. Back row, left to right: Coaches Greg Starks, David McNeil, Lonell Taylor, Steven Henry, Head Coach Sam Martinez and coaches Will Jones and Shun Dennis

Lexington Park, MD – They are likely Southern Maryland’s last local football team standing. Now that all the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference high school football teams have been eliminated there is still one squad donning pads and lacing up their cleats. These guys are undefeated and now are playing for a championship. 

The Pax River Raiders 7 and under (7U) are scheduled to play the Northwood Rams from Baltimore on Sunday, Dec. 4, 9 a..m. at Arundel High School in Gambrills. As you might expect, the team’s head coach, Sam Martinez said the game will be the Raiders’ toughest matchup of the season.

“Some of these kids been together since they were 4 and 5 years old playing flag football together,” Martinez told TheBayNet.com. “In 2015, it was our first year playing tackle football. We fell a game short of the Super Bowl losing on a last second play to St. Leonard Lions. This year we returned 13 of the players from the 2015 season, and we also welcomed nine newcomers to our team. Seven of them were first-year players, and the other two came from other organizations outside of St. Mary’s County.” 

Martinez told TheBayNet.com how the players prepared for this winning season. “We started conditioning back in May to get ready for the upcoming season, to start teaching the kids the fundamentals of football and start building team unity. During the hot summer month of August, we started practicing as a team and teaching them offensive and defensive plays. During this season, the team has learned over 75 offensive plays and defensively only allowed 18 points in 13 games we have played this season. Needless to say, this group of kids managed to win every game in their schedule to include winning the 2016 Southern Maryland Youth Athletic Conference (SMYAC) Super Bowl by defeating the 2015 Super Bowl Champs Waldorf Wildcats in a dogfight of a game 7-0.”

When asked if playing another unbeaten team might alter the squad’s game plan, Martinez assured it would not. “We play a ‘smash-mouth’ football style,” said the coach. Martinez said there is no plan to organize a formal caravan to the game. “Some of the kids will go up [to Anne Arundel County] with their parents the night before,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a good game with the best team winning it all,” Martinez stated. “I believe that we have the best team. Our boys have put a lot of time, work, effort and dedication to what we are teaching them that I don’t see them losing the last game of the season. I know our team and I know they will leave it all on the field come Sunday.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com