Orange 9U football team enjoys banner season

Pictured are members of the Orange 9U football Bengals, who won the North Jersey Pop Warner League championship and competed in the Eastern Region semifinals in Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, Nov. 13, where they sustained their only loss to finish with a 9-1 record.

ORANGE, NJ — The Orange 9U football team had a great run this season.

The Orange Bengals, under head coach Warren Clements, drove five hours to Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, Nov. 13, to compete in the Eastern Region semifinals. Unfortunately, the Bengals lost a heartbreaking 14-13 decision to the Northeast Bulldogs, of Rochester, N.Y.

It marked the only loss of the season for the Bengals, who finished with a 9-1 record.

With the score tied at 6 with five seconds left in the first half, the Bengals appeared to score a touchdown on fourth down, but the referees ruled that the Orange player did not cross the goal line. 

Northeast scored a touchdown and kicked the 2-point conversion for a 14-6 lead in the third quarter. Orange answered on a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut it to 1. 

Later in the fourth, Orange had the ball and drove to the Northeast 30-yard line, but came up short on a fourth-and-1 play to end Orange’s hopes for the win.

Orange took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a touchdown run. Northeast tied it 6-6 in the second quarter. 

Orange this season won the North Jersey Pop Warner League championship.

Despite the tough loss, Clements was proud of his team.

“It was a very good season,” Clements said. “They really overachieved. They came together as a cohesive unit. They played well. Considering that more than half the team was first-year players, I think they did very well. I’m going to move this group up next year to 10U and keep them together and be on the ‘payback tour.’ ” 

The Orange Bengals football program this season consisted of three tackle levels — 9U, 11U and 13U — as well as three flag levels and two cheerleading squads.

Photo Courtesy of Warren Clements