By Bob Hohler Globe Staff
No stranger to adversity, one of the winningest Pop Warner football programs in New England once again finds itself in a fix.
The Dorchester Eagles, who serve some of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston, have overcome numerous challenges to qualify for their eighth invitation to compete for a national title at Disney World.
The Eagles Junior Midgets need to win three games during Super Bowl week at Disney to capture a Division 1 championship, beginning with a quarterfinal matchup Sunday against Santa Margarita, Calif.
The problem is, they are short on funds to finance the trip. As of Wednesday, they had raised only about $6,000 of the $30,000 they need. The Eagles lack the fund-raising resources of many suburban programs.
“We aren’t just about the football and cheerleading programs,’’ coach Terry Cousins said. “We’re about saving and changing lives for a better future for the children.’’
The Eagles made headlines two years ago when a gunman opened fire near their practice at Roberts Field in Dorchester. Some of the children saw flashes from the gun barrel.
Others smelled the gunpowder as they dropped to the turf, parents and coaches diving on top of them as the gunman fled across the field, pistol in hand.
The Eagles, who have since moved their practices to Town Field in Dorchester, have not traveled to Disney since 2008, when they were suspended from postseason play for a brawl involving their Junior Midgets and a rival team from Rhode Island during Super Bowl week.
Having rebuilt the program, leaders of the Eagles are eager to demonstrate that their current Junior Midgets, ages 12-13, can represent themselves and the city well. They won the New England regionals last weekend and have lost only once in 14 games, by 1 point to a team they later beat in the regional playoffs.
Those interested in supporting the program may send donations to Members Plus Credit Union, 494 Gallivan Blvd., Dorchester 02124, c/o the Dorchester Eagles.
The program is holding a fund-raiser Thursday at 8 p.m. at Slades Bar and Grill at 958 Tremont St. in Boston.