Lil Trojans headed to Dallas

Published 12:01 am Thursday, October 27, 2011

FERRIDAY — When McKinley Bates got the phone call, he almost dropped the phone in shock.

The head coach for the TNT Sports Ferriday Lil Trojans’ 9- and 10-year-old squad, and overseer of the entire Lil Trojans unit, said the unit has been invited to participate in the National Youth Football Championship at Cowboy Stadium Nov. 24-27.

“When I got the phone call, and they told me we were ranked No. 6 in the nation, I almost dropped the phone,” Bates said. “Snoop Dogg’s team is No. 1, and Deion Sanders’ team is No. 2. They told us they wanted us to come play at Cowboy Stadium.”

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The unit is comprised of teams based on three different age groups: ages 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12. The Lil Trojans are a TNT Sports travel team, and rankings are determined by an organization called the NLCM Youth Sports Network.

“They basically track all of these travel teams and rank them,” Bates said. “Every year, we compete in a tournament Dec. 3 and 4, and the YMCA has us submit all of our team information. Chris Peeler with the YMCA forwarded our information to NLCM.”

And the opportunity to compete on a national stage is excellent for his players, Bates said. The Lil Trojans had a carnival last weekend to help raise funds for the trip, and an account has been opened at Concordia Bank, Bates said.

“Anyone that wants to donate came go to Concordia Bank and let them know they want to donate to the Lil Trojans,” Bates said.

“This opportunity will be great, especially when it comes to recruiting. It’s also pulling the community together — parents are coming out to watch the kids. They want to contribute.”

Bates said most of the players come from single-parent backgrounds, and a number of the older players are getting playing time as freshmen at Ferriday High School.

“It’s me and 12 coaches, and we divide four for each team,” Bates said. “We sort of act as mentors. With the parents’ permission, if the child’s having a problem, we go to the schools and talk to them. They have to maintain at least a C average to play, and many of the kids are honor roll students.”

They’re also quick to pick up what the coaches are teaching, Bates said.

“We’re telling them to run high school plays, not just telling them to run through this gap,” Bates said. “Many people think these kids are slow, but if they want something, they learn it. We don’t baby them.”

The Lil Trojans play their home games at Ferriday High School. Bates said he wanted to thank the school’s administrators, as well as former Ferriday mayor Gene Allen, current mayor Glen McGlothin and the Ferriday Board of Aldermen for opening the door to host the Lil Trojans in Ferriday.

For more information, or to donate, call Bates at 318-719-1542.