Team North Georgia wins FBU national title

Special Photo Team North Georgia quarterback Davis Mills of Peachtree Ridge works behind his offensive line.

Special Photo Team North Georgia quarterback Davis Mills of Peachtree Ridge works behind his offensive line.

Team North Georgia had a grueling 16-hour bus trip to San Antonio last week.

It was a lot more enjoyable ride on the way home.

The team, made up of mostly players from the Gwinnett Football League, celebrated its trip home after winning the Football University Eighth Grade National Championship on Sunday.

Team North Georgia defeated Team Colorado 32-6 in the finals at the Alamodome.

"I won the GFL title and I've been doing it 28 years, but this feeling is unreal," Team North Georgia head coach Ken Burge said.

The FBU National Championship is the football version of the Little League World Series in baseball, featuring 64 teams from the U.S. in a bracket-style tournament.

Burge, who has led Buford GFL teams to three titles, coached Team North Georgia last season. The team lost by two points in the first round to eventual national champion Central Florida.

The 32 members of Team North Georgia include 29 players from the Gwinnett Football League. The team features players from North Gwinnett, South Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Buford, Brookwood, Duluth and Grayson.

"Every time one of our (high school) teams (from Gwinnett) wins a state title, it goes back to the GFL," Burge said. "These kids play big boy football. That's what every coach kept telling us, they play so hard. I think there's something special about it."

Team North Georgia defeated teams from Spartanburg, S.C., Cobb County, Kentucky and Charlotte, N.C., to reach the semifinals in San Antonio.

Team North Georgia beat Team Massachusetts 25-0 in the semifinals on Friday and then defeated Team Colorado 32-6 in the finals on Sunday to win the eighth-grade national title.

"We had 32 all-stars that didn't care who was the star," Burge said. "They didn't care who got the glory and the fame. They wanted to win."

Jaymest Williams (Duluth) scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion to give Team North Georgia an 8-0 lead in the second.

Williams added a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter for a 14-0 advantage.

"You're talking about a great kid," Burge said. "He plays so hard. He runs like a mad man."

Team Colorado responded with a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for its only score. Through six playoff games, Team North Georgia only allowed one touchdown on defense. Two others came on special teams and one on an interception returned for a score.

"Coach (Steve) Bussoletti, our defensive coordinator, had a perfect plan for the kids," Burge said. "There was no attack zone on this defense from corner to corner. There weren't any weaknesses."

Connor Heyward (Peachtree Ridge) led the defense with 3.5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Williams had 1.5 tackles and fumble recovery and Edward Verdee (Central DeKalb) blocked a punt.

Jack Ness (Buford) scored on a 13-yard run with 8:40 left in the game to put Team North Georgia ahead 20-6. Ness was the game's leading rusher with 51 yards on 11 carries. Antonio Woods (South Gwinnett) followed with a 40-yard score three minutes later.

DeAngelo Gibbs (Covington) finished the scoring with a touchdown catch from Davis Mills (Peachtree Ridge). Gibbs was the game's leading receiver with four catches for 64 yards. Quarterback Chase Brice (Grayson) was 9 of 16 for 112 yards.

Team Colorado was held to 32 yards of offense and four first downs. Team North Georgia had 203 yards of offense and 14 first downs.

"There were a lot of people that helped us," Burge said. "The sponsors helped us pay for everything and we appreciate it."

Team members are: Heyward, Brice, Williams, Mills, Avery Showell, Kameron Jones, Joshua Blackwell, Leonard Warner, Evan Sturgill, Zane Ashley, Gibbs, Ryan Lovelace, Nicholas Chmielowicz, Jared Simpkins, Jaylen Fleming, Ian Jenkins, Woods, Isaiah Pryor, Ness, Malik Robinson, Dixon Yellott, Chandler Hood, Julian Uche, Keith Hernandez, Eugene Mafah, Edgar Bravo, Will Taylor, Drew Troupe, DeAndre Byrd, Nathan Haines, Verdee and Kaid Cantrell.

The team is coached by Burge, Bussoletti, Gerald Mitchell, Tony Nanes, Terrance Chandler, Drew Dasher, Jake McCroskey, Ben McBryant and Ryan Gildemeyer.