Southfield Jayhawks win youth football tournament in Tennessee

Team was delayed Friday morning when bus crashed into jackknifed semi-tanker on I-75

By Paula Tutman - Reporter

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - The Southfield Jayhawks traveling youth football team won the Rocky Top Football Classic in Knoxville, Tennessee, this weekend.

Youth league football teams from 21 states attended and the Jayhawks barely made it.  

Friday, these 9-and-10-year old youth football players were in a charter bus on I-75 in Monroe on the way to the tournament when it ran head-on into a jackknifed tanker

The driver of the tanker had swerved to miss a deer. The driver of the charter bus plowed into the tanker, but managed to guide the bus filled with these young students two football fields away to safety.

Kay Chatman was seriously injured. 

The decision was made to load the students into another bus and continue to Knoxville for the tournament.  hey not only won…they crushed…14 to zero…and as national champs, they have one more goal.

To present the winning trophy to the woman they credit with saving their lives.

Coaches Anthony Chambers and Carlos Gillings tell Local 4, the decision to head to Tennessee in spite of the ordeal Friday was made to continue a lesson the young football players are taught all year round and that is courage in the face of adversity, perseverance even when you're hurting and the ability to win, even when all seems lost. 

Shaken up, and a little bruised, the pint sized gridirons took to the field and won every game they played. 

Three games total and for the championship it was a shutout with a score of 14-zip.

As soon as they had their hands on the national trophy the decision was made to give it to Chatman, the 57 year old charter bus driver who saved their lives with her evasive maneuvers to keep the bus from tipping over after slamming into the tanker truck.  Chambers says when the team was told they would present the trophy to Chatman, everyone stood up and cheered.

They returned home Monday. They're sleepy, some are a little emotional and others have to grapple with some lingering fears from what they witnessed, when the glass from their bus shattered and rained in on them, injuring their bus driver.  But in Southfield -- while about 30 young boys went off to play some football, they returned young men who understand the real meaning of teamwork.


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