Derrik West didn't have a son at the time, but when his two brothers were both set to have sons, West began to devise a way to build a little league football team. Once they were old enough to play organized sports, he started his work to put the team together.
"When they got old enough to play organized sports, I would go out to the games and watch my nephews," West said. "Whatever teammate of theirs that was a good athlete, I would go up to their parents and tell them ‘let's keep in touch because in two years we're going to start a football team and I'd like you guys to be a part of it.'"
Three years into the team's existence, the 18-player team had won three consecutive league championships, claimed three All-City Championships and has even knocked off an NFL Hall of Famers' select little league team.
"Last year we tried to get with [Deion Sanders' football team] and it just didn't come together. This year we sent an email down to them, basically issuing them a challenge," West said. "They accepted, told us to come on down, so we decided that's what we did."
After going up 19-0 on the select team, the Dawgs had to hold off a comeback to leave Dallas with a 26-18 win. That win has spawned an invitation to play in Sanders' third annual Thanksgiving Day Classic, an invitation-only, national tournament.
Leading teams since 1991, West's coaching style lends itself to success on the field. While some teams in their age bracket will take their best athlete and build a system around them, West ensures that he's teaching the players the fundamentals of the game and allowing wins to come from that.
"We teach them the game of football; we don't find the fastest guy, pitch it to him and say ‘Go,'" West said. "We teach the kids, ‘yeah we want you to step this way, but this is why you step this way.' Our kids know the X's and O's of football."
Up next for the Deer Creek Dawgs is the Thanksgiving Day Classic, put on once again by Deion Sanders. The tournament is held in Dallas and will take place Nov. 25 and Nov. 26.