Coming of Age on the 50-Yard Line: The Epilogue

The Gwen Cherry Bulls' 80-pounders reach Pop Warner's pinnacle -- and stumble

In the South Florida equivalent of the Ice Bowl, with the temperature hovering in the low 40s at kickoff Saturday, the Gwen Cherry Bulls lost to the Goulds Rams 8-0 in the championship game of the 80-pound weight division of the Greater Miami Pop Warner football league.

"We're a better team," boasted Rams head coach Curtis Kinsey as he hoisted the golden, two-tiered Super Bowl trophy over his head. "We're better organized, we're better coached, we've got better players. We're just better."

In the stands at Harris Field in Homestead, more than 100 Goulds fans in red sweatshirts and gray stocking caps jumped with delight as their Rams avenged a regular-season loss to the Bulls, Goulds's only defeat of the year. "This was the big payback!" shouted a Rams supporter. One mother commandeered the microphone of the stadium's public address system. "You all better read the Miami Herald tomorrow," she taunted the Bulls faithful as they stomped dejectedly down the visitors' bleachers, "because there's going to be a twenty-page column on the champion Rams!"

The woman's swipe referred to the November 27 New Times cover story "Coming of Age on the 50-Yard Line," which chronicled the Bulls' march to the Super Bowl. "That was one bullshit article," griped a Rams coach at halftime through a carpenter's dust mask he was wearing to keep out the cold. "Gwen Cherry don't have no offense. You'll see. They're gonna lose."

Indeed, the Bulls failed to generate a sustained drive all day. Only an aggressive defense that forced key fumbles whenever the Rams neared the goal line kept the game scoreless past halftime. Not until the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-goal from the one, did Rams running back Keyshawn Spells manage to find the end zone.

The game ended soon thereafter.
Sullen Bulls surrendered their helmets, pants, and shoulder pads to head coach Andre "Dre" Greene, who tried to temper his disappointment. "We've got to be proud of them for giving it their all," the coach said of his young players. "They kept their heads up and made it here in only their second season. No Gwen Cherry team had even made it to the playoffs before this year, much less the Super Bowl. You've got to be proud of them all."

There's always next season, and the Bulls' future looks promising. The entire coaching staff is likely to return for the 1998 campaign, as will many of the better players. "We had playoff experience before this game," allowed Rams coach Kinsey. "This is our third year in the league and we've been in the playoffs all three seasons. That experience helped us to win this time. The Bulls have that experience now, and they'll be tougher to beat next year."

Hugging his trophy, Kinsey cracked a smile as sly as the wind chill was bracing. "We'll still beat them, though.

 
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