Esquire Network’s hit franchise Friday Night Tykes next turns its lens on one of the great football hotbeds of America; Western Pennsylvania, where football is life. FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES: STEEL COUNTRY premiering Tuesday, March 22 at 10/9c will dig deep into the birthplace of football legends. The 12-episode series spin-off will focus on Beaver County, where youth football is not a pastime, but a birthright, and young children are pressured to become superstars, not just from parents and coaches, but their entire communities. The documentary series is about more than just football, it’s about the choices parents are making for their children, and the community that surrounds America’s favorite sport. Youth football embodies the essence of these small working class towns. The game acts as a bond connecting the community culturally, socially and emotionally. In a place where the majority of the population has next to nothing, youth football is everything.
Formerly the backbone of industrial America, a once flourishing county is now filled with inoperable steel mills and rusting bridges connecting communities linked by hard times. However, these small towns are drawn together by the great tradition of football, which serves as a light in an often bleak and unspoken area of the country. Examining the heart of football, these 10 and 11-year-olds ambitiously fight for not just their communities but also a future in the home where some of football’s most notable legends began. This Western region of Pennsylvania was once home to NFL greats like Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, and Darrelle Revis. Despite the odds, each team holds onto their passion for the game, in hopes to continue the legacy.
Meet the teams:
Aliquippa Lil Quips: Aliquippa is arguably the most respected football organization in Beaver County, not only because their community has produced football legends – but because every year their youth football teams dominate in almost every single age group.
Ambridge Lil Bridgers: Looking to remove the “razzle dazzle” out of the offense and return to “smash mouth, ground-and-pound,” new Head Coach Moses Cox is ready to keep Ambridge a powerhouse in the league. They also have a secret weapon, a former female pro football player on the coaching staff, Felicia Mycyk.
Beaver Falls Lil Tigers: “Coach Teen’s” style of coaching is to teach the kids through positive reinforcement. His philosophy is to keep the kids engaged. He will never bench a kid for making a mistake. Beaver Falls made it to the championship game last year (against Central Valley), but lost in overtime – and the coaches and parents are still bitter about it.
Blackhawk Lil Cougars: These coaches and kids have been working together for six years and it shows on the field. They are tight, disciplined, and play smart. Head Coach Chaz Jannuzi feels this is their year to strike – its championship or bust.
Central Valley Lil Warriors: The defending champs and the team everyone seems to love to hate. Coach Todd Alexander is no-nonsense. He runs his practice like a drill sergeant. He’s loud, intimidating, and all business! And it seems to be working, because Central Valley hasn’t lost a game since 2012.
Monaca Lil Indians: As the oldest youth football program in Beaver County, Monaca is also the smallest team. The Lil Indians often lose their best prospects to the larger, more affluent Central Valley.
The quest for gridiron glory is anything but child’s play. FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES: STEEL COUNTRY premieres Tuesday, March 22 at 10/9c on Esquire Network.
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