Galveston County is guaranteed at least one football championship this fall.
The Hitchcock Red Raiders 6U freshmen team blew out the Spring Texans, 42-6, in Super Bowl 6 — the Youth Football Federation’s title game — on Sunday at the Berry Center in Cypress.
The victory completed a perfect season for the 5- and 6-year-old Red Raiders (11-0), who were so dominant in their three playoff games, they outscored their opponents 94-6 and finished with the second-ranked defense in the state.
Championships at any level are special because they’re not easily won — even if the Red Raiders made it look that way. But in Hitchcock, a youth football title is arguably as big of a deal as anywhere else in the football-crazed state of Texas.
“I played Red Raiders,” Hitchcock Bulldogs head coach Craig Smith said. “Coach (Morris) Tuck, our defensive coordinator, he played Red Raiders. We’re 46, 47 years old. It’s important.”
So important, in fact, the team had a community send-off Sunday morning at Hitchcock High School before boarding a charter bus to Cypress, and they received a police escort on their way out of town.
In many ways, the Red Raiders are part of growing up in Hitchcock.
Red Raiders players compete on the same turf field on Saturdays that the varsity Bulldogs do on Fridays.
“We want them to feel special,” Smith said. “They know one day they’re going to wear the red and white. It means a lot to them.”
Even the cheerleaders were recognized with a mayoral proclamation designating their own “Hitchcock Red Raider cheer day.”
A sense of community pride, especially meaningful in a small town such as Hitchcock, is learned at a young age by the kids who participate in Red Raiders. And when their own playing careers are done, they pass along their experiences and civic pride to the next generation.
“The beauty of it is a lot of ex-high school players are the coaches,” Smith said. “It’s a big thing.”
Red Raiders athletic director and freshmen team head coach Chris Chambers is a former Red Raider and Bulldog. On Sunday, he was named the 2016 Youth Football Federation coach of the year.
But it’s not just Hitchcock that benefits from the work of the Red Raiders. Several standouts on high school teams throughout the county were once Red Raiders.
Wayland Hurst and John Littles, key members of Dickinson’s defense during the Gators’ postseason runs the previous two seasons, were Red Raiders.
Perry Preston and De’Marco Guidry played for the Red Raiders, too, before leading the La Marque Cougars to a share of a district title this season.
There are plenty others, as well.
A decade from now, members of this year’s freshmen Red Raiders team may go on to lead the Bulldogs, Cougars or Gators on a state title run. But for now, the players and coaches and their families will celebrate a championship that will forever link them with the community they represent.