When Stanley Dunbar launched Breakthrough Football Academy his goal was to not only provide a year-round football program to develop RI athletes, but it was also his mission to help Rhode Island players gain exposure.
“Rhode Island has talent. It’s up to us coaches to develop that talent and get kids the exposure so they can play at the next level,” said Dunbar, the Coventry High Head Coach and former St. Raphael and University of Rhode Island standout.
So he developed Breakthrough Football Academy which includes clinics, individual instruction and group workouts. His staff is made up of former professional and collegiate football players..
“Our coaches are passionate about sharing their experience and knowledge with the next generation of football players,’ said Dunbar.
In just two years Breakthrough Football Academy has ballooned from 15-50 participants.
“Breakthrough Football Academy isn’t for everybody,” said Dunbar. “It’s for the serious high school player who wants to get to the next level.”
Dunbar certainly knows what it takes to get to the next level. The head coach at Coventry High is one of the best football players to emerge from RI. The former St. Raphael All-Stater led the Saints to a 13-0 record as a senior and a Super Bowl title with a win over Hendricken. He went on to earn All-Conference honors at Dean College and finished his career at the University of Rhode Island where he was a two-year starter for the Rams.
“I want to take my experience and use it to help guide players…help them learn what they need to do athletically and academically to get to the next level. Help them choose the right camps to go to when it comes time for camp season,” said Dunbar. “I want to help them so they aren’t wasting time and money. I want to develop kids year-round and offer advice and direction as they prepare to reach their goal of playing at the next level.”
Cranston West senior All-Stater Cam Alves, who will continue his football career at Stonehill College in the fall, has been training with Dunbar.
“Coach Dunbar is one of the best,” said Alves.. “He has had a huge impact on me. He has helped me to grow and develop so much not just as a football player but as a young man. He has made everyone (at Breakthrough Academy) better.”
Offering football year-round in New England is crucial to the development of RI athletes.
“In states such as Florida and Georgia football players have the luxury of spring football. Therefore, they have more opportunities to work on their game. Breakthrough Football Academy was created with the intent to close the competitive advantage football players from other states have on New England football players through year round football training and development,” said Dunbar.
In a short time, Dunbar has already reached his goal of generating exposure for the Breakthrough players.
Breakthrough partnered with Legacy 7-on-7 and led by RI’s elite including Hendricken’s Angel Sanchez, East Greenwich’s Andrew Liccardi, La Salle’s Michael Jordan and Cranston West’s Cam Alves and Nathan Sena, Breakthrough has dominated the Legacy 7on7 Winter League, which was comprised of 15 teams from throughout New England.. The RI-based team recently won its second consecutive Winter League championships – making it hard for everyone not to notice the players from the smallest state in the union.
“We’re actually 3-for-3,” said Dunbar. “We won the Midwest Championship, too.”
The Breakthrough Elite, a team filled with juniors and sophomores from RI and Massachusetts, recently traveled to Michigan where they captured the Midwest Championship. Dunbar’s team turned heads as Breakthrough Elite entered as the No. 12 seed in the tournament and upset the No. 1 seed Adidas Elite and then went on to beat Protraction, a team from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for the championship.
“We won the Legacy Midwest Championship in Michigan. We competed against kids from all over the Midwest and Northeast. Came into single elimination day as the 12th seed and went on a run! Beyond proud of these kids for the heart they played with,” said Dunbar.
The spring upcoming tournaments have all been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Dunbar is hoping he will be able to be back on the field in late spring. He’d like to hold a skills clinic in May – a month before the camp season takes place.
“The plan is to help kids work on their skills and prepare for the camp season in June. Once June hits, that is a big camp month. A lot of our Breakthrough kids will be off representing themselves at camps. We want them to be prepared . That’s the goal of this program..to get noticed and to be prepared for the next level.”