Delray Rocks roll to 19-0 lead for Super Bowl title

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The Delray Beach Rocks 7-under team jumped out to a 19-0 halftime lead, and after some costly special teams miscues, held off a late charge by the Pembroke Pines Optimist Bengals and captured the American Youth Football League Super Bowl title.

The victory was the fourth AYFL Super Bowl title for the program. The Rocks won their first two in 2018 when they captured the  7-Under and 8-Under championships and the 10-Under team won in 2019.

After a year off due to the league shuttering in 2020 due to COVID-19, the 7-Under team picked up where the others left off.

Delray Beach ran the table winning 13 straight games and outscored the opposition 338-18 during the regular season with seven shutouts and then added two more shutouts in the playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl win as they blanked the Kendall Boys & Girls Club, 40-0, and then Miramar, 33-0, to advance to the title game.

The Rocks appeared to be headed to another lopsided win in the Super Bowl, however, PPO, one of the founding programs in 1996 and the all-time winningest club began to claw back.

Javaris Collins opened the scoring with a 47-yard run with 3:56 remaining in the first quarter to give the Rocks a 6-0 advantage. Jeffrey Blanchard scored on a 27-yard run and Jordayn Estime added a 30-yard run and Collins added a 2-point conversion run as Delray Beach opened up the large advantage.

“I knew I had the better team and the better defense,” said Delray Beach Coach Eric Davis. “Anything can happen in one game and it is tough to beat a good team twice in one season, but we had to do that in the playoffs to finish it. We had to beat three teams twice in the same season to do it.

“We were rolling and some freak things happen and they got back into the game,” Davis said.

Starting off the third quarter, the Bengals recovered an onside kick that led to a score closing the gap to 19-6. A muffed punt led to another score that drew the Bengals to within 19-12.

After another muffed punt when the defensive tackle attempted to field the kick enabled PPO to close to within 19-18 with 1:46 remaining in the game, Collins, who received the defensive MVP for the game, made a key tackle on the extra point attempt and the Rocks ran out the clock for the win.

“He (Collins) came up big all game, Davis said. “Beating a team like PPO was huge. They are an established program and a lot of NFL players have come from there. They get kids in there from everywhere. It was a big deal and we were the only team from Delray, out of the four that made the playoffs, we stood alone. I credit our fans who traveled for that morning game to support us.”

The Rocks finished third overall in total wins with 49 victories. The Boynton Beach Bulldogs and Tamarac Cougars each had 53 wins.

The team opened the season with a 41-6 win over Plantation and followed that up with wins over Boynton Beach (47-0), Tamarac (41-0), Hollywood (41-0), Miramar (33-6), PPO (26-0), Lauderhill (41-0), Pompano by forfeit because the Eagles didn’t field a 7U team, Kendall Boys & Girls Club (38-0), Miami PAL (28-6) to close out the regular season.

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Davis, who coached at his alma mater Boca High from 2013-17 were he fashioned a 23-18 record, entered this season believing his team could be playoff contenders.

“I had a lot of kids who had never played football before,” said Davis, who played collegiately at Southern University. “I had some skill kids that I knew had some quick feet. I felt I could do some great things with them. We had to make some adjustments with our quarterback situation and we had to work with the linemen and had to plug in two 6-year-old kids because they were too heavy for the 6U team.

“We had a lot of inexperienced kids and we had our work cut out for us,” he said. “Worked a lot with our offensive and defensive line because that was where we had the most of our young and inexperienced kids. We finally got them developed where they could hold their own. The trenches don’t have the accolades, but I am very proud of them.”

Davis played for the Rocks in the 1970s. He said he enjoyed his time on the sidelines at Boca High. In addition to coaching the youth football team, Davis is a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and manages the Volunteer Program and Community Outreach.

“What I like about the high school kids and developing them to be able to play at the next level and the kids can look back and say, ‘I enjoyed my high school football career,’ whether they go on or not,” Davis said. “What I like about the young kids is that it is like molding clay. My victory is seeing a kid who never played the game before, or didn’t know anything about the game, come out and play in a Super Bowl as a two-way starter.

“It says a lot about them working hard and believing in us,” Davis said. “It is a life lesson. You have to adapt and adjust to things you have never seen before and you are going to take on the challenge.”

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