- Special Sections
- Dawgs Deals
- Local Guide
Considering that a 7-8 age football team has players consisting of Jaquez Johnson's little brother and Darren McFadden's little cousin, it's easy to see how the Starkville Raiders are undefeated at this point of the Northeast Youth Football Association season.
The Raiders (8-0) can finish without a loss if they defeat the city rival Starkville Cowboys on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. at Jaycee Field located near Armstrong Middle School.
Former Mississippi State defensive lineman Lateef Travis is the coach of the Raiders and he says it has been a season to remember.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Travis, who lettered at MSU in 1992-93, "We have a real good offensive line and have an outstanding young tailback."
The tailback is Joshua Aka, the cousin of McFadden (former Arkansas tailback and ironically now of the Oakland Raiders), and Travis said he's already impressive as a youngster.
"Joshua busts 80- and 90-yard touchdowns every week," Travis said. "If there's anybody who will leave you an impression, it's him. You will have wished to have seen him when he was younger."
The quarterback for the Raiders is 7-year-old Nyjal Johnson, the young brother of Starkville High School senior quarterback Jaquez.
Travis believes if Nyjal keeps progressing, he can be better than older brother one day.
"I really think Nyjal has the chance to be the best quarterback to ever leave Starkville," Travis said. "He's pretty good."
Travis has been amazed with the talent up and down the Raiders roster and has been pleased with how the team has come together this year.
"When we got together, we really weren't sure what we had because they are 7- and 8-years-old," Travis said. "We had another couple of guys, Orien Thompson and Keyshawn Lawrence, who show real good leadership on defense. They have shown the younger guys how the defensive mentality is supposed to be."