Dot’s Elite Eagles football program joins new league

Jean Felix, Tony Hurston, Phil Hood, Terry “Beefy” Cousins, attorney John Swomley, Broovelt Lacet, and Rep. Russell Homes at the Dorchester Elite Eagles press conference on April 7. Cassidy McNeeley photo

Fresh off its first-ever national championship last year, the Dorchester Elite Eagles youth football program is spreading its wings by joining the up-and-coming American Youth Football (AYF) league.

The move, announced at a press conference last Sunday at Dorchester’s Unity Sports Club, will encompass all divisions of its football and cheer programs.

“It’s a gift and a curse; we outgrew Pop Warner in New England. Nothing bad to say,” said Eagles U14 head coach Tony Hurston. “AYF is the new way. They have tons of teams. We will be able to play football and just have fun.”

Hurston’s team finished off a perfect season in December by winning the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, dominating the Darby (PA) Monarchs, 20-0.

The Eagles have been a powerhouse in the northeast for many years. After decades of success participating in Pop Warner, including 19 division titles, the Eagles leadership was ready for a new challenge. 

“Dorchester Elite Eagles will be a part of Blackstone Valley for the 2024 season,” said Football Director of AYF New England Phil Hood. “It was a no-brainer. Competitive football and cheer, community first attitude; it was a good fit for us.”

AYF was established in 1996 and uses football and cheer to implement high moral standards into the community’s youth. Specifically, the organization emphasizes the importance of being rooted in the community and achieving academic success. 
The league is divided into eight regions: Atlantic, Big East, Desert Mountain, Midwest, Big West, New England, Southeast, and Southwest. The Eagles will be the latest addition to the New England region joining teams from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and of course, Massachusetts. Within this region, the Eagles chose to be in the Blackstone Valley Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference. 

“This is going to be a good season for us,” said the president and coach of the Dorchester Elite Eagles, Terry “Beefy” Cousins. “We got to do our thing. We got to do what Dorchester does. Get out there and play good football.”

He added: “This is a great transition for us and our family and friends. A better quality of football, a better quality of everything for us.”

New opportunities include the AYF Conference All-Star Division, which gives players in their final season before high school chances to play in out-of-state tournaments. The league also offers camps and combines as well as international programs in hopes of globalizing American youth football and cheer. 

Cousins and his colleagues explained that there were times this season when their teams had no one to play against – a common problem, especially for city teams. With the number of organizations and opportunities in AYF, they believe this is unlikely to happen again.

“We have seven, eight teams inside of our program. Pop Warner is equipped to only have a program with four teams,” said Hurston. “AYF created an opportunity to house as many levels as you can. They are growing so big and they’re giving more opportunities.”

The Eagles said they leave with no hostility and wish Pop Warner continued success. In the meantime, they will take their players – including 80 percent of the 14U national championship team – to AYF. There, they plan on doing what the Eagles have always done: Welcome all who are interested to join them on the field. 

“One of our key sayings is we welcome everybody,” said Cousins. “All we care about is pouring back into the kids and giving the kids an outlet. That hasn’t changed.”

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