Sunday 28 November 2021 | 11:01 am
It was quite a turnaround for the Penn-Trafford 11-12 junior football team.
After stumbling at the start of the regular season and falling to Woodland Hills and McKeesport, the team righted the ship and did something unexpected – they won the Big East Youth Football League championship.
Penn-Trafford (10-3) defeated McKeesport, 34-6, in the Nov. 19 final at Jeannette.
“We were hot at the right time,” said Penn-Trafford coach Sam DeNillo. “They started to believe in themselves and had something to prove.
“We lost to Woodland Hills, 38-0, and McKeesport beat us by three or four touchdowns the first time around. The team really wanted Woodland Hills.
Penn-Trafford opened the playoffs by beating Kiski, 24-14, and then he beat No.1 Woodland Hills, 22-6.
“We’ve had to face some ups and downs during the season,” DeNillo said. “Longtime coach Joe Lauricia has passed away and a player’s father has passed away. But we were able to overcome these things and we gelled at the right time.
“It was a resilient, uncompromising and tough group. Many stood up and gave their all in every game.
Some of the players who led the team were running back Ben Grabowski, running back Landon Stikkle and quarterback Cody Yacamelli.
“It’s hard to pick one or two. They all did their jobs, ”DeNillo said. “It has been a rewarding season and the kids deserve the championship.”
The Penn-Trafford 7-8 team also reached the championship game, losing to Woodland Hills, 12-0.
The team finished the season 10-2. His other loss was to Woodland Hills, 6-0, in triple overtime during the regular season.
“We had a good season and honestly should have won it,” said Penn-Trafford coach Eric Demari. “Considering we haven’t had a season in 2020 because of the covid, the team has come a long way.
“No one had played tackle football before, and we were teaching them how to play. It was a good group and they integrated well.
Some of the team’s best players included running back Sloan Simpson, quarterback Colton Mastro, lineman Deion Lewis, running back Jordy Gladkowski and defensive back Benny Padezan.
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