MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Cobras Junior Football program had an opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ in New York on Friday.
The Cobras did well this season, as this was the first year for the Cobras in American Youth Football, a national program that has eight regions across the country.
The Cobras U13 eighth-grade team not only won the league championship but also went on the win the Big East Region to then went on to compete for the national title in Kissimmee Florida. The Cobras came home as the fourth-ranked AYF eighth-grade grade team in the nation.
The partnership with USA Football and NFL Play 60 earned the Cobras this honor at the NASDAQ.
Led by Montclair Police Lieutenant Wilhelm Young, who has been involved with the Cobras for the past 18 years, the Cobras, part of the community football program founded in 1969 by Howard Finney, have developed from a small group of dads coaching to a national level comptetitive football program.
Finney, who coached the travel football team for 43 years and now serves as an advisor, said, "It was terrific for the team. They had a great time and a successful season."
"It was very exciting for all the kids," said Young. "What an honor and unforgettable experience for the boys."
The NFL provided a limo-bus and picked up the Cobras U13 Staff at the home of the Cobras, Glenfield Park and took them to the NASDAQ tower. Once there they were met by their player safety coach and former New York Giant offensive lineman and Super Bowl champion Roman Oben, the director of Youth and High School Football Development for the NFL. Oben is also a coach on the Cobras Staff. Oben has two boys, one who is still young enough to play and one who is now in high school, but who had played in the Cobras' program.
Two years ago, Oben moved into the area and reached out to Young to enroll his sons in the program. Oben explained that when he first inquired as to where his boys should play, at every turn he was told to take them to the Cobras and he did.
This was also the first year for our Cheerleaders to compete in the AYF system. Our cheerleaders worked hard day after day. They also cheered at all of the weekly games. On competition day, they stole the show. Our girls kept the winning tradition alive and took 1st place honors.
The Cobras continue as one of Montclair’s longest running youth programs. Howard ran the program by himself until partnering with Lt. Young. At the beginning, the Cobras were the only football in town for Montclair youth.
The Cobras had both travel teams and intermural teams. At a point, Finney turned the intermural portion of the program over the Montclair Recreation Department. The Cobras has continued, since that time, fielding four levels of play. 13U, 12U, 11U and 9U. The 9 and under level is instructional and does compete in post season league play only. 10 year olds to 13 year olds compete in post-season play through Nationals.
"Money is always an issue being a private program with no funding. We have a surrogate non-profit status through AYF and fundraise annually to keep the program going," said Young.
Additional photos for download at the link below
All photos were taken by Norman Deshong