North Minneapolis youth football team celebrating national win

North Minneapolis football team celebrates national win

North Minneapolis football team celebrates national win

A North Minneapolis youth football team is celebrating a national win after bringing home the first-place award at a tournament in Illinois.

When the Minnesota Jays suit up and step on the field, Stanley Boone, an 11-year-old Minnesota Jays player, said it’s all about the mindset.

“I just think about making that game hit or attack or touchdown, thinking about blocking for my teammates and thinking about winning,” Boone said.

The North Minneapolis team keeps it positive.

“No negative stuff in my mind so just constantly good things,” Boone said.

Passion fuels their plays on the field and dedication drives them to be better.

“I know how to read the defense and better offense. It’s just very fun after practice, but in practice is kind of like business,” Boone said.

This month, the Minnesota Jays took care of business.

The team competed in the D1 Nation Spring National Championship and went head-to-head with the best of the best.

Then, they walked away with a first-place win.

“I’m ecstatic. That group has been playing since they were about six or seven. So it’s finally time for them to get their flowers and get what they deserve,” Marvin Thompson, Minnesota Jays head coach, said.

Coach Thompson has the team’s back on and off the field. He said practice has not always been perfect.

“We used to practice at Jordan Park and we had a very unfortunate incident,” Thompson said.

In the summer of 2020, when the boys were running drills, they were forced to run for cover.

“We were surrounded with about 50 to 100 gunshots; we ended up laying on top of the kids in the middle of the practice field,” Thompson said.

50 boys were practicing in north Minneapolis when gunfire rang out from a drive-by shooting nearby.

RELATED: Boys football team runs for safety after gunfire erupts near Minneapolis practice field

“The coaches were trying to make sure we were safe. They put us in the corner, got vans and stuff and drove us out,” Marqueal Mitchell, Minnesota Jays player, said. “We were just scared.”

None of the boys were physically hurt, but mentally the coach said it was tough. Now, the team practices in the Byn-Mawr neighborhood in Minneapolis.

The Jays also dealt with a tragic loss. A few years later, the players lost someone they emulated.

Deshaun Hill Junior, former Minnesota Jays player, was killed in a shooting in Minneapolis. He was a member of the Jays before being a star player on the North High School Football team.

RELATED: Showtime documentary highlights North High School, Deshaun Hill

The players said they thought of Hill while they were on the field competing.

Coach Thompson said the big win proves the team can tackle anything that comes their way.

“At the end of the day, we’re brothers. We’re going to take care of each other. If one of us falls we’ll pick them up and keep on moving,” Boone said.

Minnesota Jays is holding a car wash fundraiser on Saturday, July 22 at 10 a.m. at Almsted’s Fresh Market located at 4200 Douglas Dr. N. in Crystal.

The nonprofit is also fundraising efforts to support the team’s efforts to continue competing and traveling.