Millville, N.J. (WTXF) - From tragedy to triumph. Championship bound, but a local football team will be missing their beloved coach who was shot and killed last August.
"We're going to win," 8-year-old Samir Hadley is the quarterback for the Millville Midget Football League's freshman division. He's confident they'll defeat Pennsgrove in the league Super Bowl this weekend. His coach JT Burks says three of their four teams are headed to the championship game.
"They put in hard work so they're excited. They've been asking me about trophies and jackets so they're anticipating a win," said Coach Burks. The moment is bittersweet though because one of their coaches won't be there. 37-year-old Joseph Jones was shot to death last August as practice was ending on the fields behind Lakeside Middle School. Coach Jones's son little Joe plays on the team.
"Then they fumbled on 4th down. Then after that it went offense and Dante made the touchdown then we won the game. The whole entire game," said little Joe in a video his mom shared with me of him at his dad's gravesite telling him about their last winning game and the plan to now win the Super Bowl.
"We get a trophy and all new stuff. We get a new jacket. We get everything new and I love you dad," said little Joe. Anthony Parmer's son Ryan plays for the Millville Thunder sophomore division and says Saturday is a big day for all of the kids.
"I'm really proud of the whole team because through this journey they've endured and conquered," he said. Millville Thunder Head Coach Kuan Bowleg says the teams deserve it all.
"The boys have done tremendous over the last couple of weeks. In the playoffs we shut teams out. We've had a two round playoff and I'm really excited about the boys' performance," he said.
As for the investigation into the coach's murder, five people have been arrested and charged.
The big game for the teams is Saturday morning in Vineland.