4th-grade Jackets

The fourth-grade Cleburne Yellow Jackets will face off against Aledo for a third consecutive year in the Metroplex Youth Football Association super bowl championship. Last year, Aledo used a ball-control offense to beat Cleburne, 16-6.

The Cleburne Yellow Jackets clinched their third consecutive appearance in the Metroplex Youth Football Association super bowl and will put their undefeated record on the line vs. Aledo.

This group of Yellow Jackets, fourth-graders this year, enter Saturday’s super bowl with an undefeated record at 11-0.

But for Cleburne to bring home the championship hardware, the Jackets will have to get past a familiar foe. Cleburne has lost to this same Aledo team in the MYFA super bowl each of the past two seasons and the Jackets will be out for revenge with a championship on the line at 4 p.m. Saturday in Joshua.

“We’re very much determined,” said Darion McCullough, an assistant coach for the Jackets and a 2014 CHS graduate. “We know everything it took to get to this point. When we showed up for week 1 of practice, we had it in our minds we were going back to the super bowl and figuring out how we were going to be victorious. It wasn’t a matter of if we got back to the super bowl, it was a matter of what we need to do when we get back.”

In last year’s super bowl — a 16-6 loss to Aledo — the Jackets couldn’t get off the field defensively as the Bearcats’ ball-control, rushing offense proved tough to stop, consistently picking up three or four yards and moving the chains all game on third and fourth down.

“In a game like that where the ball is controlled, you have to limit mistakes,” McCullough said. “It comes down to who makes the most mistakes. Last year, we had the most mistakes and we had limited possessions. If I recall correctly, we only had four offensive possessions with how they controlled the ball. When you have limited possessions like that, you have to capitalize and we didn’t.”

McCullough said the key to success this year — in addition to limiting mistakes — will be trying to steal a couple of extra possessions.

“We have to try to force some turnovers, something we didn’t do last year,” he said. “We didn’t force any fumbles and only forced them to turn the ball over on downs once, I believe. If we can create some turnovers to give us those extra possessions, that will help.”

To this point of the season, the fourth-grade Jackets have been dominant in every sense of the word. In their first 11 games this season, only two opponents have scored. In week 1, Cleburne claimed a 38-14 win over Aledo (Aledo Sanders). Last week, the Jackets clinched a spot in the super bowl with a 34-24 win over Aledo (Aledo Massacci). Those are the only two teams to score a single point against Cleburne.

The Jackets’ nine other games have all been 30-0 shutout wins with the mercy rule in effect.

“I’m super proud of them,” McCullough said. “These guys show up every week and they play greedy. They really take it to heart to not give up yards, let alone a touchdown. It’s definitely a complete team effort. You don’t get to accomplish what we’ve accomplished playing 2 on 11 or 3 on 11. Football is 11 vs. 11 and everybody on our team is all over the field making plays.”

Of the 28 players on Cleburne’s roster, 16 are returners from last year and have played together for a while.

“To me, it’s just the camaraderie that makes them a good team,” McCullough said. “The fact that they have played together for multiple years. A lot of them go to school together and hang out together outside of football. It’s brought them so close together on the field.”

Aledo (Aledo Tregellas) is also undefeated and boasted a 236-14 scoring margin during the regular season. The Bearcats beat White Settlement, 14-0, last week to clinch their super bowl berth.

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