Thanksgiving is a time for family, food and football. In Las Vegas it's family, football and food since the National Youth Football Championships (NYFC) took place at 8 different venues over a 3 day span. The NYFC has been coming to Vegas since 1988 and most of the nations top teams from the 14-U to 10-U age groups to play in a holiday tournament that hosts some of the nations top talent. Teams from as far as Anchorage. Alaska and Billings, Montana joined teams from Southern and Northern California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, a total of 94 teams in all, took the field for the 2 game tournament.
I watched a lot of the Billings Outlaws for a couple reasons.
1. They had 3 of the top 14 year olds in country on the team in defensive tackle Jaquan Booth, middle linebacker/running back Junior Brackenridge and wide receiver/cornerback Peanut Arrigo (yes, we are related, he is my son).
2. They are coached by one of the best coaches in the country in former AFL QB Chris Dixon II and AFL LB Jaquwan Brackenridge along with former NFL DB and CFL champion Tyron Brackenridge.
I wasn't able to attend the Battle for the Fremont Cannon due to covering this tournament (and BIG hat tip to Jeff Waddilove for covering the game for me).
I watched a total of 12 games in all total over the 3 day span and came away impressed with the tournament, the quality of play and the organizers, especially Sharron Ritch who came up CLUTCH all weekend and was the "go to person" for all the teams. (The officials on the other hand I will not comment on). The tournament is 10 minute quarters with games starting at 8am and ending at 5pm in locations from Henderson to North Las Vegas with the Rio serving as the headquarters for the tournament organizers.
While the Billings Outlaws came in 2nd play to the Milpitas (California) Cowboys, the Outlaws had 2 of the most dominant players in the tournament in Defensive Tackle Jaquan Booth and Middle Linebacker/Running Back Junior Brackenridge and one of the best cover cornerbacks in Peanut Arrigo. Booth is a 6'0/290 pound monster that plays extremely fast with great leverage, power and intelligence. He also plays with the mean/nasty streak that you look for in a DT to go along with excellent leadership qualities. Brackenridge, who is 5'9/172 is the defensive leader manning the middle who calls the defense and flies around the field making plays sideline to sideline. Arrigo, who is Brackenridge's cousin, is a 5'7/110 corner is a ball hawk who locks down one side of the field and plays with instincts and smarts. Booth is the type of player who (most likely) will be a varsity player from day one, he has that type of ability right now.
I've had other family members play in this tournament over the years but I never came to see it. But living up here and being able to see it for myself, I can see why this is a big event. The tournament directors do a great job making it family friendly and fun for all. The teams are quality and full of talent. I would highly recommend it for any youth team or league to try at least one time. For more information about the tournament just click the link, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-327-9311.