52 years ago, 4000 kids in the New York Counties of Nassau and Suffolk assembled at practice fields across Long Island, each of them hoping for one of the coveted spots on the vaunted traveling teams.
52 years ago, 300 of those kids reported to Polaris Field for tryouts.
52 years ago, 26 of those kids made the cut to become the Levittown Red Devil Traveling Team.
This is a story that is far more complicated and layered than just “kids playing football.”
In 1971 and 1972 (under the tutelage of Coaches Jim Tintle, Bobby Perpall, John Dybus and Rich Festante), the team would make Long Island Youth Football History--outscoring their opponents 443-69, achieving a win loss record of 20-1, capturing the Long Island Midget Football League title 2 years running and defeating Bowl Opponent All-Stars in Maryland 54-0.
And the competition was fierce. Out of the 110 Youth Football teams spread across Long Island from Queens to Montauk, 4000 young athletes in five age and weight divisions battled for the coveted Division Championships.
Since the population of Long Island at the time was as large as the 11th most populous state, the Red Devils accomplished the equivalent of being the State Champs of Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts or New Jersey.
This in itself may not seem to some as extraordinary, considering there were hundreds of talented youth football teams across the nation--but what makes this team special is the manner in which they accomplished what they did, amidst very turbulent and troubling times.
These were "just kids," the offspring of first and second generation Levittowners, whose fathers were veteran servicemen almost to a man. While their Dads were busy policing crime-ridden, decaying and nearly bankrupt New York City, extinguishing massive fires in the South Bronx, and erecting the World Trade Center, their Moms, both working and stay-at-home, kept the home fires bright and burning, sustaining the 19,000 homes of the Nations First True Suburb.
Though the on-field accomplishments of these teams is unparelled in RED DEVIL and even L.I.M.F.O.L. history, it was the off the field lessons and contributions to the lives of these young boys that resonates to this day, not the least of which was the entire community of Levittown--the volunteerism, generosity and sacrifice of Levittowners (whether their kids were associated with the Red Devils or not) was truly a grass roots endeavor that gave these young athletes the support they needed to succeed beyond all expectations.
The Devils You Knew documentary is a professional produced, broad-cast ready1.5 testatment to the players and coaches, the people of Levittown, NY, and the youth football programs of Long Island, NY during the late 1960s and early 1970s.