ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While youth football in the Albuquerque metro predominantly consists of YAFL, a local Pop Warner team is taking things to the next level. The Duke City Outlawz (12u) is a team that wanted to change the culture of youth football in the area, and in the team’s first year of existence, they are already making some noise.
As youth sports continue to evolve, the Outlawz wanted to be part of the new wave. Among the reasons why the team started include an increase in competition, and an increase in opportunities for for young New Mexican athletes. The Outlawz are one of the few youth football teams in the area that compete against out of state teams, and Duke City is currently 5-0.
“It’s great playing out of state teams and seeing better competition,” said lineman Tristan Bacon. “We aren’t the biggest team, but we be beating those teams.”
“We’re almost always the underdog because we’re just New Mexico,” said running back, receiver Zach Soto. “When you hear a bigger state, you think New Mexico is going to get killed, but we always put up a fight and we’ve won all out games so far.”
So far, the team isn’t just winning, they are dominating. Through five games, the Outlawz have scored a total of 183 points and only allowed six.
Part of the success also comes from the coaching staff. Three local players on the UNM roster, Isaiah Chavez, Carlos Lovato and Jimmy Gallegos, dedicate much of their free time to help with the team, and the players believe that having coaches who currently play at such a high level gives them confidence to compete against anyone.
Now, with the regular season winding down, the Outlawz are looking to make even more noise. With the postseason right around the corner, the team has its sights set on making a trip to nationals. To help support the Outlawz with travel expenses and equipment, the team has started a GoFundMe campaign.
“You know we’re at a point right now where we want to try to give the kids different opportunities to experience more than what is normally available to them out here,” said coach Jeremy Soto. “In December, if everything goes as planned, we’ll have an opportunity to get to nationals in Orlando and play against some of the best competition in the country.”