Salisbury 49ers to play in National Tournament
SALISBURY — The Salisbury 49ers 9U football team will head to Plant City, Florida tonight for the Tiny Mitey Mite National Championship Tournament at the Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex.
Coaches Leechann McManus and Michael Wells will crowd their troops up in a van around 9 p.m. to head to Plant City, near Tampa. The 9U 49ers are coming off a 9-0 season and are 36-2 for the last three seasons The team consists of 20 players from throughout Rowan County. 14 players will travel due to budget constraints for a potential week of football in the sunshine state.
Their first game is scheduled for Sunday. They won’t know who their first-round opponent is until they get there.
“They’re about to go crazy,” Wells said. “They’re excited.”
The 49ers play at neutral sites like Mooresville and Mallard Creek High Schools and have played at the Dunbar Center and Livingstone College. Most of the teams they play are from out of Charlotte.
“This league doesn’t offer much but for the kids to constantly come here and show dedication is an outstanding job,” McManus said. “We do play out of town so it’s kind of hard to get a fanbase. For the kids to stick with the program and play ball the way they do, it’s outstanding.”
The championship tournament lasts a week and carries a double elimination format. Four straight wins will reach the final.
A loss in an early game means it’ll take six wins to reach the final. The top 50 teams in the nation are invited and the 49ers are regarded as a top-5 squad as they outscored their opponents 213-6 this year. The tournament lasts from Sunday to Dec. 8.
Salisbury was crowned United NCYFL State Champions after a 13-0 win against the Charlotte Bills. It was their third straight appearance in the state title game after dropping the game the last two years.
“Our kids have been playing together since they were 5 and 6 years old,” McManus said.
McManus says he’s also proud that 10 of the kids are on the honor roll at school.
“We got a lot of heart on our team,” Wells went on to say. “A lot of people take us lightly because we’re small but they swarm like bees on you.”