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One team, One family; The Story of Santa Cruz Pop Warner 12U team

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV)- It was a quiet Tuesday night in Santa Cruz but at Harvey West Park, the Santa Cruz Seahawks Pop Warner 12U Team are gearing up for a chance at history.

The Seahawks, (11-0) will be looking for their second straight D1 National Title at the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Florida starting on Saturday Dec. 3. The Seahawks will have to win three games at Camping World Stadium in order to bring the trophy back to Surf City.

The junior varsity cheer team will also be heading to Orlando with the football team to seek their first national title.

Santa Cruz Pop Warner and Cheer President Ernie Camacho grew up playing in the program. Now, Camacho says it about mentoring the young people in the program.

"I believe that the foundation I learned on this field led me to become the man I am today," Camacho said. "I wanted to ensure I can give those same lessons that I learned to the youth of our community."

The program has been fundraising money over the past month to send the football and cheer teams to Orlando. They have raised $2,465 so far with their goal being $2,600.

Camacho is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.

"We cannot do this without the community," Camacho said. "Without the community's support and allowing us to mentor these kids, it means a lot to me."

Their quest for perfection has been a road filled with changes. Defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Dave Forbus has seen the team get better every week during the team's quest for perfection.

"In August, we were figuring out what positions that we need to fill," Forbus said. "Now we have to bring our football up to the national level and working on the details at this point."

The Seahawks only had three returning players from last season's championship winning team. Quarterback/ middle linebacker Kelton Forbus, running back Devon Williams and running back/safety Keyandre Bailey have been the dynamic trio that has led the team back to this stage.

Coach Forbus said It has been bittersweet to see these kids grow into young men but they have become leaders on and off the field.

"Since they were kids, they always loved to play," Forbus said. "Now they are helping others that have not been here and bringing them up to a level they know they need to play to be winners."

Kelton and Devon have been playing all sports together since they were in kindergarten. Devon would beat him in basketball on the playground but Kelton would have the upper hand in baseball and football.

Photos of when Kelton Forbus and Devon Williams started in the program to winning the Bay Area Pop Warner Championship in 2021. Photo courtesy of Dave Forbus

"Devon has beaten me my entire life in basketball," Forbus said. "I have always competed in football and baseball but he has gotten me in basketball."

It has been a redemption season for Williams who saw his 2021 campaign get cut short due to a collarbone injury. His teammates promised him that they would be back playing for another national title.

"It sucked not being out there and playing," Williams said. "It was amazing to see our team win but I always wanted to go back."

Forbus and Williams have been the catalysts for this high tempo offense. Forbus has rushed for 16 touchdowns and thrown for nine with eight of those going to Williams.

The defense has been rock solid all season long with only allowing seven points or less.

These will be the final games that Forbus and Williams be on the field together. Forbus will be heading to Soquel High School while Williams will be heading to De La Salle High School in Concord.

They have not really thought about this being the last games that play together on the field before they head off in separate directions. They know their friendship will extend beyond the gridiron.

"Being able to go through a lot of different situations and sticking together through those situations," Forbus said. "There is not a lot people who can stay friends for that long consistently.

The Seahawks will play their first round matchup on Saturday. If they were to advance they would play the semifinal game on Tuesday Dec. 6 and they would advance to championship game on Saturday Dec. 10.

For more information on the Pop Warner National Championships click here. If you still want to donate money for the fundraiser click here.

Santa Cruz Pop Warner 12U team to compete for back-to-back D1 championship

The Santa Cruz Seahawks Pop Warner 12U team will compete for a Pop Warner National Championship in Orlando, Florida in Dec.

The 12U team is going for back-to-back D1 National Titles.

The Jr Varsity Cheer squad will also be traveling to compete for their first National Title.


Both teams have worked countless hours in working towards this goal of reaching Pop Warner Nationals.  You can donate through Vertical Raise or you can donate directly through Venmo. 

Thank for your support. Please help support me and the Santa Cruz Seahawks National Championship Fundraiser 2022 by donating and sharing

Ernie Camacho President of Santa Cruz Pop Warner Football and Cheer

You can donate to help the teams reach their goal, here.

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Derrick Ow

Assignment Editor for KION News Channel 5/46

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