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Pee Wee Cougars win second straight Super Bowl
LAKEWOOD — The Lakewood Youth Football Pee Wee Cougars are back-to-back Super Bowl champions. What will they do now?
The younger Cougars will come back for a three-peat while the kids who turn 10 before the start of next season will move on to the Midget (10 and 11 year-old) level, that’s what they'll do.
Last year's pass-happy Pee Wee team lost to South Whidbey in the regular season, their only loss of the season, but got revenge in a Super Bowl overtime thriller. This year they loved to run and battled to an undefeated record, knocking off Anacortes for the repeat title on Oct. 29.
The Cougars practiced just like the high school Cougar team: warmups to start, then drills, offensive and defensive scrimmages and water breaks. The only difference, Lakewood Youth Football Athletics Association (LYFAA) president Dawn Taylor said, is that the high school Cougars hit much harder.
The heaviest player on the 2011 Pee Wee team rocked the scales at 48 pounds. Second-year middle linebacker Ryan Orr was "so tiny that he would have to duct tape his pants to keep them up," Taylor said.
But it's not about the size of the players — it's about power of will.
“The kids have lots of heart and dedication,” Taylor said. “They’re out there 15 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., even at seven and eight years old.”
Head coach Jason Taylor considers first-year offensive lineman Jayden Riley perfect for the Pee Wee Cougar team because he’s “already ready for high school ball.”
Of second-year running back Justice Taylor, coach Taylor says, “If I could bottle up his heart and play him at every position, I would.”
Third-year player Derek Robbins was coach Taylor’s “(former Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman) Walter Jones” last year before moving to quarterback in 2011. Robbins didn’t like the pressure at first, but he “sucked it up and did his best — he’s going to excel as he gets older.”
Another star on the Pee Wee team was second-year running back Malik Dotson, who scored a reported 14 touchdowns in 2010 and 12 more in 2011. Three times Dotson qualified for the Mercy Rule, in which a player must play some other position after scoring three touchdowns in one position, and as a result Dotson played strong safety and kicker — he was the only player on the team able to put field goals through the uprights this season.
"It's fun and I like playing football," Dotson said. "I could play baseball, but I don't want to — it's boring."
Football has become Dotson's passion — he's gone from watching SpongeBob to watching ESPN and playing football video games to learn the ins and outs of the sport because "there's a lot to learn about and there's a lot of interceptions." Jenni Jacott, Dotson's mother, bought herself a "how to play football" book to encourage Malik's growing interest.
Dotson says he was never afraid of getting hit — in fact, he wanted his stepdad, Wes Loupias, to try to tackle him so that Dotson could find out what it was like.
Dotson was even going to be a New Orleans Saint for Halloween, but went instead in his Cougar uniform because his team had just won it all.
But it wasn't all about Malik — in fact, he would often run out of bounds near the goal line to give his teammates opportunities to shine. Riley Thompson, Dotson's teammate and classmate at Cougar Creek Elementary School, was one of the team's smaller players but would run over defenders on the way to the end zone.
Offensive lineman Reece Curry and defensive tackle/running back Andrew Malloy will remain on the Pee Wee team with Dotson to continue their camaraderie.
"It's going to be really fun because it's going to be the next level up and there will be bigger guys," Dotson says.
Robbins wants to transfer to Cougar Creek to be in Malik's class, and he's always telling people that Dotson will be a superstar.
“Football is such a cool life lesson sport because it’s all-encompassing for players and parents,” Dawn Taylor said.
First-year player Colby Campbell told his mother he was sick one day, and his mother realized how engulfed she was in her son’s team because her first thought was whether or not Colby would be able to play in the next game.
“There are lots of first-time players who got into it and couldn’t imagine coming back next year,” Dawn Taylor said. “I hope they stick to the game because it gives these kids a really good start as they feed into high school and go on to play for (Lakewood High School football coach) Dan Teeter. I hope they become really great men.”
The Cougars were honored at halftime of Lakewood High School's 55-0 2A Districts blowout of Burlington-Edison on Nov. 4. The players knelt around the Pee Wee Super Bowl trophy and stood, one at a time, for recognition and admiration from their hometown crowd.