The old saying "offense wins games, defense wins championships" might be true, but in the case of the hard-fought battle between the sophomore Tomahawks and the Eastern Sabers Saturday, Nov. 4, one team of 29 determined athletes became champions! One team performed at a new level not yet seen through the season and experienced what it’s like to come out on top.

Playing for the Eastern Conference Championship title, the sophomore Tomahawks faced a challenge not previously met in the nine games leading up to this match-up. “This game was our first true test against a team with bigger, stronger players,” remarks coach Chris Jones, “and our boys welcomed the challenge.”

The level of motivation and determination was at its highest, as this group of Tomahawks had yet to experience a win against the Sabers.

“Going into the game we knew it would be a real physical test for our boys. We didn’t know how the boys would react,” offers head coach Ron Christy.

Dominating the first half, the Tomahawks proved their reaction to be fierce. Two touchdowns by A.J. Anderson, 2-point conversion by Karson Tiewater, a safety by Hoben Hoge and another touchdown by Mike Jones, the offense proved to be an impactful component of the game as the dynamic defense shut down the Sabers' offense with a 22-0 lead going into halftime.

“I cannot say enough about our offensive line, man, they handled those boys,” states coach Josh Christy.

The intensity continued into the second half, with Mike Jones punching in a touchdown, stretching the lead another 6 points for the Tomahawks. Then something switched; the Sabers' offense came alive.

Scoring 14 points in the 3rd quarter, the Tomahawk defense was put to its test.

“Defense did great in the first half, bent a little in the second, but didn’t break,” mentions coach Larry Root. The Tomahawks stayed focused and went to work. “We got punched in the mouth and punched back twice as hard,” coach Josh Christy said.

The game proved to be both mentally and physically tough for these young athletes.

“We had some minor injuries due to a hard-hitting game. They knew they had to dig down deep and cowboy up and play past the pain,” explains Ron Christy. And dig deep they did. The defense would not allow the Sabers another score. The offense line opened up holes and set up the perfect situation for Jones and the final score of the game.

“Our offensive line did a great job all game and our running backs were explosive,” offers Root. “It was an all-around team effort; special teams did a great job.”

A team wins championships. Tomahawks offense had a total of 304 yards rushing, 26 yards passing, 8 first downs, 5 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Tomahawks defense had a total of 45 tackles, one fumble recovery, one kickoff recovery, 2 turnovers on downs, 2 sacks and a safety. Giving up only 14 points to the Sabers and scoring 34, the sophomore Tomahawks advance to the league championship game against the Southwest Mojos for the main event of the season, the GEYF sophomore Super Bowl.

“Our team played hard for one another, they trusted one another and they played with heart; that is what got them their win,” declares Jones. One thing was definitely unanimous; there is much pride and excitement for all those involved with this special group of boys, from coaches to families to spectators.

Be part of their journey Saturday, Nov. 11, as they play in the final game of the season against Southwest, 1 p.m. at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield.

Jenn Michael is Tehachapi Youth Football's director of off field operations.