That was the single loud cheer that came from the huddle of the Seaford Broncos 11-year-olds before kickoff on Senior Night, the youth football program’s final game under the lights at Seamans Neck Park on Oct. 12.
The rest of the huddle emphatically repeated, “I believe!” The leader then shouted, “I believe that,” as the team responded again, until the chant hit a crescendo of “I believe that we will win,” the now-famous call-and-respond chant that originated at the United States Naval Academy during Army-Navy football games.
That firm belief resulted in stellar execution, leading to a 27-14 Seaford victory over the Bellmore Braves. Seaford’s defense was present in the Braves’ backfield throughout the night and limited opportunities for Bellmore to stay in striking distance.
Seaford running back Brian Falk slithered and shook his way through Bellmore’s defense, causing havoc and breaking loose for two first-half rushing touchdowns. He first crossed the goal line with 5:56 left in the first quarter for the opening points of the game. On the Broncos’ next possession, he took a handoff at midfield and scampered 46 yards to within the Braves’ 5-yard line. The drive was capped with a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Jack Rosen. Rosen was spun around and hit hard as he reached for the pylon, and was taken out for the rest of the game.
“I’m all right, I feel good,” Rosen said after the game. He will have an extended rest for their next game, as the Broncos do not play next week.
The Broncos’ cheerleaders performed their routines on the sidelines during the game and kept the crowd involved throughout the win. The cheerleading program begins at 5 years old in the Broncos’ organization, with competitive cheering starting at 6 years old.
Falk scored another highlight-reel touchdown in the second quarter, reversing field and turning the corner to push the Broncos’ lead to 20-7.
Broncos’ quarterback Michael Spinella showed quick, elusive feet in the pocket, and completed multiple passes, a feat rarely seen in youth football.
Defensively, Tommy Mirenda Jr. broke through Bellmore’s offensive line repeatedly to corral ball carriers in the backfield. He made near-identical tackles for losses on back-to-back plays in the second quarter, leading to a Bellmore punt.
“We just added a new defense pregame,” player Matthew Kind said. “It gave our linebackers different holes to get in and make the play in the backfield.”
The Broncos stayed in control throughout the second half, and kept the ball on the ground to run the clock down until the horn sounded for a big midseason win, moving their record to 3-2.
The postgame scene was bittersweet, though. As the players began to shed their pads and jerseys to find their parents, munch on food from the concession stand and celebrate with their families, Leif Rosen, the Broncos’ vice president of football and the 11-year-olds’ head coach, strolled across the field under the bright stadium lighting, taking in the moment.
“I’ve been coaching these same kids for the past six, seven years now,” Rosen said, understanding that the Broncos’ youth careers are in their waning days. “It’s very hard. It’s very sad. I’ve known these same kids since they were about 5 and 6 years old and watched them grow and begin to mature.”
A glimmer in his eye showed as he spoke about mentoring this group. “It was always about being the ‘ultimate teammate’ first and foremost,” Rosen said. “These kids have pride and heart, and you see that. Throughout the years, it’s been good to see that hard work pays off for them. We teach as coaches, but they are the ones who do the real hard work.”
The organization was founded in 1966 and has had big names come through the program, including former San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns tight end Devon Cajuste; former Arizona Cardinals tight end Adam Bergen; and New York Giants preseason center James O’Hagan.
Beyond football, the Broncos embody the communal nature of Seaford. Recently, the Broncos assisted with food collections, setting up the Seaford 9/11 memorial ceremony, and collecting money for a wounded and neglected dog that was adopted by a Bronco mom.