Two undefeated youth football teams from Elgin will compete in their Super Bowl this weekend.
The teams from Elgin Youth Football and Cheer, known as the Elgin Bears, compete in the Chicagoland Youth Football League, which includes 283 teams from 45 communities and bills itself as the largest independent youth football league in the country. All coaches are trained and certified by USA Football, said Todd Wood, president of the Elgin organization.
Elgin's Lightweight Big 10 team of seventh- and eighth-graders, who won the title last year, plays the Barrington Broncos at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Mundelein High School.
Quarterback Jordan Jones, an eighth-grader at Kenyon Woods Middle School in South Elgin, said the team put in a lot of hard work. "I'm excited," he said. "At the same time, we have something to prove from last year."
Elgin's Featherweight PAC 10 team plays the Wauconda Bulldogs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Willowbrook High School. The third- and fourth-graders from Elgin lost the title game last year after four overtimes.
That was a rough loss, said Featherweight PAC 10 defensive tackle Robert Capuzi, a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School in Elgin. "I was thinking that I needed to work harder, and I needed my friends to work hard as well, so that we can make it to the Super Bowl," he said. "Now we are playing in the Super Bowl and we're hoping we will win."
The Elgin teams are among only nine in the league undefeated this season, Wood said. The Super Bowl games will be streamed live and archived at visionfriendly.com/tcyfl.
The Elgin league, which begins practice in July, has about 145 kids from age 5 through eighth grade. Enrollment has decreased over the years, partly due to increased awareness about potential injuries and concussions, Wood said. But there are lots of benefits to the sport, he said.
"Football is a model for life," he said. "It's getting through adversity. Working with teammates. Working hard and dedicating yourself."
Football is kind of like school, Robert said. "You have to listen ... and if you mess up the play, everything is going to go wrong."
His father, also named Robert Capuzi, said football has been a positive influence on his son. "It keeps him active, it gives him a lot of friends. And structure-wise, learning-wise ..." he said. "It's all part of the game."