Illinois “Next Level Athletics” football team crowned National Champs

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THE 2020 POP Warner Football 14U National Champs: Next Level Athletics Football Team (coaches, players and parents) (Photo credit: Paulette and Sidney Turner)

Joseph G. Phillips, Sports Editor
The Chicago Crusader Newspaper

Residing in the state of Illinois, the Next Level Athletics Pop Warner football team made history this month after being crowned National Champions as the top 14U team for the 2020 football season.


The team clinched their first national championship in franchise history with a 33-24 victory over the Park Ridge Falcons on Tuesday, December 8, in Orlando, Florida.

The game was featured on the Brevard Sports Network, as parents across the nation tuned in to see their children play on a national platform.

“This is the beginning of their Pop Warner experience,” said Paulette Turner, after posting a photo of her son Caleb Turner playing for Pop Warner back in 2015. “Tomorrow is the end of their Pop Warner experience on the same field!”

According to Turner and her husband, Sidney, the Next Level Athletics football team managed to go undefeated both in State and Regionals, ultimately being crowned D1 National Champs.

Turner said both her son and grandson have played for Pop Warner the past five years, and this will be their last year wearing a uniform for the organization. She said she’s done everything necessary to send her son Caleb and her grandson Lawrence Heron to Orlando, Florida—from fundraising via GoFundme.com to providing resources of her own.

Turner and her husband said it has been a great experience for their two boys and now in their last year, through trying times, the boys managed to succeed.

“They have had an awesome season with an amazing team and a group of amazing coaches,” said Sidney Turner. “They are now crowned state, regional and national champions and have remained undefeated in the midst of a pandemic.”

“To be continued,” he said.

Final Score: Next Level 33, Park Ridge 24.

With the victory, the Next Level Athletics Pop Warner football team are now the kings of 14U football. The championship game was sponsored by Horizon Therapeutics: “Where success is defined by a different set of numbers: the number of lives touched, the number of lives changed, [and] the number of lives saved.”

Chicago Crusader Players of The Game:

Congrats to the 2020 National Champions: The Next Level Athletics Pop Warner 14U Football Team.

Joseph R. Phillips is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 15 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q & A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at sports@chicagocrusader.com.

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