New England Football League CHAMPIONS TAKE A LEAVE IN 2013 | New England Football League
New England Football League

CHAMPIONS TAKE A LEAVE IN 2013

After winning two of the last 4 NEFL AAA championships, the Connecticut Bearcats will take an official leave of absence for the 2013 season. &ldquot;It was a very difficult decision to make&rdquot; said team owner Byron Knox, &ldquot;however we feel what is best for our organization and its players is to take the year off and regroup for the future.&rdquot;

In 2009, their first season in AAA, the Bearcats lost in the final minutes of the NEFL Championship game to Lowell Nor'easter. The Bearcats rebounded in 2010 dominating Lowell in their regular season matchup and then dominated the defending champions one year later in the championship game to win their first title. The Bearcats defended their crown in 2011 defeating the Boston Bandits to become back to back champions.

Off the field the Bearcats was viewed as one of the top football franchises in Minor League football. Taken on the title as &ldquot;Connecticut's Team&rdquot;, the Bearcats provided an amazing sports venue for the football hungry fans throughout the area. With the mission of helping others, the team created the One for Fun program, a health based campaign focused on healthy eating and motivating school aged children to participate in a minimum of one hour of exercise each day. &ldquot;We visited elementary schools and summer camps throughout the state&rdquot; said linebacker Courtney Sutherland, &ldquot;We were ahead of the curve with some of the stuff we were doing&rdquot;. In doing so, the Bearcats were named Organization of the Year in 2010. General Manager Bernie Armstrong won the Administrator of the Year Award in 2009, 2010 and 2012. &ldquot;Teams are doing things now that we did back then; we set the bar I feel&rdquot;.

The NEFL and the Bearcats have agreed to reevaluate the organizations structure and stability in 2014 in hope to take the field again. All 2012 roster players were encouraged to continue their play with other area NEFL teams. The players were given the option to sign one year contracts with their 2013 teams to provide them the opportunity to return to the Bearcats if they return in the following season. &ldquot;I'll miss being on the Bearcats sidelines this year&rdquot; said Hairston, &ldquot;we clearly made history during our stay; there may never be an organization like that again&rdquot;.

Pictured Above: Joe Verna (left), Ernest Fields (right) and the Bearcats take a leave of absence for 2013

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