Northwest Raiders

Zanai Lane, a member of the Raiders’ small squad cheerleading team, practices a “bow and arrow” formation at the team’s pep rally on Monday. Lane is one of 60 students traveling to Florida for the Pop Warner National Football and Cheerleading Championship. — Tribune Photo by Samaria Bailey

Germantown’s Northwest Raiders, this year’s top Eastern region team in the AA Pop Warner Little Scholars football and cheerleading league, is raising funds for travel to Orlando, Fla. Dec. 6 to 13 to compete for the national title.

More than 60 youth, including 25 football players and 36 cheerleaders, and approximately 20 coaches will take part in the competition, closing out a season of wins at the local and regional championships.

“It’s hard for us to get the funding,” said Aaron Josey, defensive coach. “It’s $900 per person to get down there [and] we have to travel and feed them for nine days.”

Josey said the teams have hosted a fish fry, created a Go Fund Me page and made personal contributions to raise the estimated $10,000 they have so far.

He noted at least $35,000 would cover the entire trip.

“[We] are gradually bringing in money,” Josey said, “slowly but surely.”

In the meantime, students said they were ready and motivated.

“I feel great,” said Naeem Bonner, an 11th-grader from West Oak Lane. “There is nothing like it.”

Bonner traveled with the team in 2011 and 2012 for the same tournament, but didn’t play. This year, he will be playing and is confident the team can win the top prize.

“I’m confident in my team because I know if I mess up on a play, the guy behind me has my back,” he said.

Isheem Young, a ninth-grader from North Philly, agreed.

“We have good team chemistry and we work hard,” he said. “My team would never let me down.”

The Raiders will play their first game against a team from Ohio, the top team in the Mid-America conference.

“I’m not scared because I think we got a better team,” said Nasire Griffin, an eighth-grader at Wagner Middle School. “All we need is to be disciplined and do the best we can to beat them.”

The two cheer teams, the small squad (level one division) and the medium squad (level two division), competing in the nationals, said they felt the same way. And rightfully so, the small squad won this year’s local and Eastern regional competitions and the medium squad won the local competition and placed second in the regional.

“Our team is nice,” said Amber Wilson, a 10th-grader at Girls High School, who cheers with the medium squad. “If we clean it up, we can go out there and kill it.”

To help fund the trip, contact Coach Josey at (215) 421-2912.

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