Alonzo Enriques, a Morris resident who will turn 14 years old in February, did not need much time to get noticed as a football player.
On Nov. 4, Enriques completed his first season with the Morris Warriors youth organization. When Enriques and the varsity were defeated by Lemont one round shy of the River Valley Youth Football League's Super Bowl, Enriques was feeling down.
His spirits were lifted when he and his family were approached and Enriques was given the chance to play for the eighth-grade Team Chicago in the 2012 Football University National Championship. The FBU National Championship is an invitation-only All-Star tournament between teams from all over the country.
"It really was," Alonzo's mother, Joanna Savoia-Enriques, said when asked if the opportunity came as a surprise. "We had no idea that they had even been out scouting teams."
Since agreeing to join the team, Enriques has been practicing regularly in the evenings with Team Chicago. The first two rounds of the FBU National Championship were held last weekend, but Chicago received byes. Rounds 3 and 4 are this Saturday and Sunday in Mansfield, Ohio. Chicago will face Team Maryland in the third round.
"Pretty good. It's kind of different. We do some different stretches, but it's good. They keep me fit," Enriques said of Team Chicago practices.
"I think we have a really good chance (against Maryland). I heard they were a good team."
Enriques first got interested in football when he watched his brother, Vincent Enriques, play for the Morris Community High School Redskins. Like Alonzo, Enriques was a lineman. He played for the Redskins through the 2009 season.
Savoia-Enriques says that while Alonzo had shown interest in playing for a while, she wanted to make sure his interest was genuine and that he would stick with it before signing him up. Alonzo was allowed to join the Warriors this fall, and the experience has exceeded his expectations.
"It's really been more fun than I expected it to be," Enriques said. "Nose is my main position. It lets me take all my anger out on the field. They teach me how to get out of blocks. It feels good to take down someone."
The FBU experience has been something of a bonus for Enriques following a successful debut with the Warriors, says Savoia-Enriques.
"He's been really psyched. He loves it. He can't believe he got this opportunity," she said. "The coaches over at the Warriors have done awesome. They've really worked with him. He's put his whole heart and soul into it."
After finishing his career with the Warriors, Enriques hopes to follow in Vincent's footsteps with the Redskins.
"One more year and I'm off to high school, he said. "My brother said they had a really good team when they played."