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November 28, 2007 > Titan Junior Midgets move on to nationals

Titan Junior Midgets move on to nationals

By Biff Jones
Photos By Don Jedlovec

Tri-Cities Titans' Jr. Midgets (12-14 year olds) defeated the Douglas Tigers of Nevada in the finals of Pop Warner Football Division II, Northwest Regional. The game was played at Woodside High School near Redwood City Saturday, Nov. 24. The Northwest Region stretches from Alaska to central California and is one of eight regions across the United States for Pop Warner. The regional winners move on to national competition next week in Orlando, Florida where four different age groups in three divisions try to win their version of a Super Bowl and become National Champions. To become a Super Bowl winner in Division II, teams in each age group will have to win two games during the week of play in Orlando.

In the game against Douglas, the Tigers fumbled the opening kick-off, but were able to pick it up and run it back 60-yards for a touchdown as the fumble threw off the Titans kick coverage. The extra point was no good, but Douglas now had an early 6-0 lead. That lead proved to be short lived, as on Tri-Cities second possession of the first quarter, the Titans were able to methodically move down the field and score the tying touchdown. The key play on the drive was a 15-yard pass from quarterback Jesse Tate to DeShane Hines that took the ball down to the Tigers four yard line. Running back Zachary Johnson then scored on a three yard run for Tri-Cities. The two point extra try was kicked through the uprights by Laron Sanders-Hernandez to give Tri- Cities an 8-6 lead. In Pop Warner, kicked extra points are worth two points and successful extra points via the run or pass are only worth one point.

The remainder of the game became a defensive struggle for both teams. For the Titans, it was the defensive play of Donny Good, along with his running while on offense that was instrumental in shutting out Dougles over the last three and a half quarters. It would be remiss not to mention the punting of Sanders-Hernandez that was key in giving Tri-Cities good field position for much of the game. With the help of good snaps by center and long snapper, Marcos Patino, Sanders was able to boom three punts for an average of about 40-yards. The early 8-6 score held up for a Titan victory.

It is now off to the Sunshine State Sunday, Dec. 2, as the Titans' Jr. Midgets try to bring home a National Title. Their semi-final game will be played on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and if they win that game, the Championship Game is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 6. The return home will be Saturday, Dec. 8. This is the first time a Tri-Cities team has qualified for nationals and the first time a team having been in existence for only three years, has advance this far. In addition, this is the first year the Titans have played in Division II, having just moved up from Division III.

Also, the Titans' Jr. Midget counterparts, the 12-14 year old female cheerleaders, also won the Northwest Regional cheerleading competition held Friday, Nov. 23 at Santa Clara University. They will be joining their male footballers in making the trip to Florida to compete in the National Pop Warner cheer and dance finals.

The cost for sending these kids, (twenty-seven football players and thirteen cheerleaders on the combined team) to nationals is about $1,000 per player and cheerleader, and does not include parents. Tri-Cities plays its home games at Newark Jr. High School. Most of these kids live and attend school in the Tri-Cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City, plus Hayward and Milpitas. To help offset some of the cost for this not-for-profit organization, donations can be sent to Pop Warner Football and Cheer, 6167 Jarvis Ave. #109, Newark, CA 94560. Tri-Cities Association of Peninsula League Pop Warner will make sure any donations from a company, business or individual gets recognized for their support. Donations are needed by Saturday morning, Dec. 1.

If making a donation, please telephone Team Mom, Juanita Lopez, at (510) 468-9000 to let her know that a donation is forthcoming. Any financial assistance would be highly appreciated.

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