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“Marquee Magic!” Pirates Sink Titans In D-II Jr. Midget Classic!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Friday, December 11, 2014
“He’s ‘Wall’, Y’All!.....But, ‘Ooooh!’ Bytheway!”

As any football fan knows, sometimes all the hype about a “potential classic” gridiron match fails to deliver in the end result. But, other times, that end result exceeds even the most outrageous build up. Yesterday’s match up between the tough Titans from Loveland, CO and the pesky Pirates from Port St. Lucie, FL qualified, in every way and every play, for the latter.

After the high-flying lads from Loveland outgunned the Secret Society Panthers in Tuesday’s semi final by a score of 38-33 we knew this versatile pass-and-run offense could put points on the board at any given minute. Meanwhile, Port St. Lucie’s amazing 13-12 OT semi-final win over the Edgewood Eagles in Tuesday's other semi-final showed us that this speedy crew would trade shot-for-shot with anybody, right up until the final whistle. And, with Loveland and Port St. Lucie each featuring premiere Pop Warner running backs…Nicholas “Stone” Wall for the Titans, and Bradyn “Ooooh!” Bytheway and Ronald “Gold Coast” Ivory for the Pirates, this D-II Jr. Midget Championship game had fans buzzing from the start.

In the first quarter, it was not the versatile offenses, but two determined defenses that dominated the action. That said, the Pirates Ronald Ivory slammed through on a 1 yard plunge for the opening TD. The PAT attempt was no good, and at the end of the first stanza, the score stood Pirates 6-Titans 0.

In the second quarter, both defenses again dominated. But, with time running out in the half, big Nick “Stone” Wall blasted into the end zone from 11 yards out to tie it up. The PAT kick for two points was good and, at the end of half, the Titans took the lead 8-6.

In the third quarter, both the Titans and the Pirates running backs, firing out behind rock-ribbed “O” lines, marched down the field, only to be denied another score. Finally, Port St. Lucie went to the air, completing a quick opening slant pass to Tanner Hinze who raced 31 yards for the touchdown. This time, the PAT kick for two was good and the Pirates retook the lead 14-8 . That set the stage for a furious-action fourth quarter.

Midway through that final stanza, the Titans’ Nick "Stone" Wall swept left on a counter play from the Port St. Lucie 35 yard line and rolled down the sidelines. At the 11 yard line, he was hit hard. But,with his legs churning and Loveland rooters roaring, Wall dragged three Pirate defenders into the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point kick was good and Loveland retook the lead 16-14.

But, with the Pirates Bytheway and Ivory hustling through holes opened by their determined line, Port St. Lucie stormed back. With less than three minutes to go , the Pirates faced a fourth and goal-to-go from the Loveland 9 yard line. But, Ronald Ivory was up to the challenge. Taking a pitchout, he swept left and dashed into the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT kick was no good. But, the Pirates now led 20-16.

Loveland now looked to be in good shape for one of their patented two minutes drives. But, as often happens in rock ‘em, sock ‘em games, if a key player or two goes down, it can change the flow of the game. And, that’s exactly what happened. After Nicholas Wall toted the pigskin to midfield for the Titans, he was hit hard and momentarily down. Moving gingerly to the sideline, he was out of action with what looked like a hip-pointer.
Still, Loveland kept rolling. But, with less than a minute to play, a Titan pass was intercepted by the opportunistic Pirates secondary. Two plays later, Port St. Lucie took a knee to secure their hard fought 20-16 victory and the 2014 D-II Jr. Midget Championship.

Wow! Wow! WOW! What a game! And, what a bunch of gamers, from BOTH Port St. Lucie and Loveland! Congratulations to the Port St. Lucie Pirates on their title run at ESPN Wide World of Sports. And, kudos to both teams on great sportsmanship and excellent play in one of the best championship games ever seen at the Pop Warner Super Bowl.
“Hollywood Endings: The Sequels” – More Nail-Biters Highlight Super Bowl Semi-Finals

by Bob Field, Jr.- Thursday, December 11, 2014
A couple of days ago, when Far West squeezed by Va. Beach in two overtimes for an incredible finale in the opening round of D-II’s Jr. Midget play, we sensed that Pop Warner Super Bowl 2014 just feature a record number of “Hollywood Endings”. And, that’s exactly what’s been happening!

And, yesterday gave us our latest of same.

As the sun was sinking across the horizon at Field #17, the Northwest Raiders from Philadelphia topped the Palmetto Raiders from the Miami area on a fourth down, desperation, across-the-body pass from the Northwest QB into the arms of his wide receiver in the southeast corner of the end zone for another 2-OT thriller, advancing them to the D-1 Midget Championship game and a meeting with the powerful New Britain Raiders from CT.

That makes the latest in at least a half-dozen “Hollywood Endings” so far (including two OT games and two 2OT games!) before the final curtain.

And, of the winners in those nail-biter beauties, watch for championship match-ups on Friday between the Port Lucie Pirates and the Loveland Titans in D-II Jr. Midgets and the West Lynn Rams and the Ward 5 Warriors in D-II Midget play. Then catch the Far West Jets and Watkins Hornets in D-I Jr. Midget and New Britain Raiders vs. Northwest Raiders in the D-I Midget Championship (aired “live” at noon Saturday, on ESPN 2)

Yep, if you love Hollywood Endings, get set for a batch more before the weekend’s out between teams that are already battle-tested and unvanquished in this year’s incredible football action at Pop Warner Super Bowl Week- 2014!

“Watch Yer Top Knot!”- Titans’ Western-Ways Epitomize Pop Warner Toughness & Resiliency

by Bob Field, Jr.- Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The visitlovelandco.org website advertises “Loveland, Colorado- Everything You Love.”  And, why not? Nestled just below the Front Range of the Rockies, settled in 1877 by gandy-dancers on the Colorado Central Railroad, featuring geography with two-fisted names like Big Thompson Canyon, Devil’s Backbone, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, and Coyote Ridge, and hosting the annual Larimer County Fair & Rodeo, this is a place that epitomizes tough, strong, resilient Pop Warner football.

So, it’s no wonder, on Tuesday afternoon,  the Loveland Titans, that include a running back with a name right out of Irish railroad building days (“Michael O’Kinney”) and a defensive back with the same name as a legendary Old West mountain man (“Jeremiah Johnson”) , powered their way to a gritty, gutsy, semi-final win over a quick Secret Society Panthers on Tuesday. That hard-earned victory propelled Loveland into tomorrow’s big D-II Jr. Midget Championship game against the racehorse gang from Port Lucie, Florida.

This is the second trip for Loveland’s Coach Jeff Mauck to the deep green gridirons of ESPN Wide World of Sports and a shot at Pop Warner championship glory. Two years ago, a talented Titans Jr. Pee Wee squad, with Coach Mauk at the helm, also roared into the Pop Warner Super Bowl Week. But, despite high expectations, those Loveland lads fell short of their championship goal. 

“I think we were a little bull-headed about things back then, “ reflected Coach Mauck.“ I figured we could just run, run, run. But, we learned from that first experience that, against the very best teams in the country here at Disney, opposing coaches and players adapt pretty quickly to the sameness in a team’s offensive sets.“  

And that’s why, this year, with a few of the same players from that Jr. Pee Wee team on the roster, plus the addition of a strong and versatile group of newcomers, the Loveland Jr. Midgets have now complemented their potent inside running game with a quick-strike aerial assault to keep opposing defenses scrambling as they wonder what’s coming at them next. Add to that a “bend-but-don’t-break defense”, together with a mindset that says, “We can deal with any adversity!”, and the boys from Colorado have earned themselves a date with destiny.

In that semi-final tilt with Secret Society (from Maryland), the Titans spotted the Panthers 6 points on a 9 yard TD in the first quarter. But, they countered it with a 19 yard TD pass and a sparkling 52 yarder , both to speedy Caleb Smith , to go up 16-6. In the second quarter, Secret Society tallied twice to take the lead- 20-16 . It might have been more. But, that Titans D-back I was telling you about with the mountain man’s name…Jeremiah Johnson…? Yep, he picked off a Panthers pass to keep the score 20-16 in favor of the Secret Society at the half.

Going into the 3rd quarter, the Panthers’ Desmond Shell ripped off a 49 yard run for a TD.  But, the ever resilient Titans scored on touchdown runs by Mike O’Kinney and Nick “Stone” Wall to retake the lead at 32-27.

Early in the final stanza, the Titans looked like they might extend their lead when they muscled down to the Panthers 4 yard line. But Secret Society held tough on defense. Loveland’s defense returned the favor and with 4:00 to go in the game, the Titans offense took over again. Loveland went back to its passing attack and, this time, they connected on a 12 yard TD pass to give them a 38-27 lead.

Still, the equally tough Marylanders weren’t about to give-in.  The Panthers pushed down field for a TD, cutting Loveland’s lead to five. But, with time running out, the Titans used ball control to seal the deal on a final score of Loveland 38- Secret Society 33.

Yep, coming from the land of rugged mountain trails, buckin’ broncos, and barrel racing grit, and a roster with names that echo the Old West, these Loveland Titans are a super example of those Pop Warner teams that have made it into the national championship round by learning to adapt to all the best that other great teams can muster against them.

Now, we’ll see if Loveland can rope a championship when they ride into battle against the Port St. Lucie Pirates tomorrow for national honors in the D-II Jr. Midget Championship game at beautiful ESPN Wide World of Sports. And, as the old Colorado mountain man advised long ago, “Watch Yer Topknot!”…’cuz here come the Loveland Titans!

For a look at some of the great sites and sounds around Loveland, CO , click on the following links:

kdvr.com/2014/10/02/explore-colorado-devils-backbone

www.larimercountyfair.org

And here’s a link to the“ The Ballad of Jeremiah Johnson” from the Robert Redford movie of the same name.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkw2Nv1env8

Pop Warner Champ To MLB All-Star: “Todd Terrific” Has Done It All!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pop Warner Alum & Cincy Reds All-Star -Todd Frazier:

In soooo many, it seems like only yesterday that the Tom’s River Raiders Jr. Pee Wee team, with young Todd Frazier at quarterback, powered their way to a national championship at the 1996 Pop Warner Super Bowl. Then, two years later, Todd and several of his Pop Warner teammates made the Guinness Book of Records by taking their talents to the diamond and rolling all the way to a Little League World Series title in Williamsport, PA.

Last August, as fate would have it, I had field level seats at a Colorado Rockies game against the Cincinnati Reds. During pre-game BP, the Reds strapping All-Star third & first baseman spotted my Pop Warner hat. He sauntered over, beamed and extended his large hand in welcome. When I reminded him of that amazing championship run for the Tom’s River kids in both Pop Warner and Little League, he laughed and said, simply, “Yeah , those were some craaazy times!”

12 yr. old Todd Frazier:

Lest we forget, during those “craaazy” times, Todd also won the National Kick, Punt and Pass competition. And, a few years later, he scored over 1,000 points in his basketball career with Tom’s River South H.S. Then, after starring in baseball for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Todd signed with the Cincinnati Reds, and the rest is history.

Good luck to a Pop Warner champ “Todd Terrific” from Tom’s River, NJ on another great season with the Cincinnati Reds.

Watch for more “Where Are They Now?” news about some outstanding Pop Warner alumni as our Pop Warner Super Bowl legacy features continue throughout the week!

And, oh yes, here’s a bonus feature!  Back in late autumn of 1998, a New Jersey public relations agency shot an “Anti-Smoking” public service TV spot featuring Todd and his dual-sport champion Tom’s River teammates. Check it out at the following link (Todd is the  big kid swinging for the fences to knock-out tobacco! )

Tuesday Fun Facts!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Sometimes A Loss Is A Win - Miss Tabby’s Story

Every year, the Pop Warner Super Bowl includes a bevy of human interest stories. And, this year, one of the best of those stories revolves around Colorado Springs Wardogs team mom Tabby Neel.

A couple of years ago, “Miss Tabby”, as the Wardogs affectionately know her, had a serious heart problem and was in need of a transplant. But, as she waited for a donor, with the clock ticking, on top of everything, her beloved Wardogs were having a great season , with a chance to compete in the Southwest Regional Playoffs.

Then, at the last minute, a turn of events worked wonders. To hear Tabby describe what happened, click on the link (coming soon).

Of Sweatshirts, Fur Coats and “Mr. Touchdown”

With yesterday’s rain, and this morning’s fair but cool conditions, greeting the crowds for football at ESPN Wide World of Sports, by far the biggest selling item at the Disney apparel shop on Sponsor’s Row has been the “58th Pop Warner Super Bowl” hoodie.

Seeing folks staying toasty warm while watching plenty of offensive fireworks on gridirons all around the complex today reminds me of a Pop Warner “fun fact” from eighty years agowhile Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner was coaching the Temple U Owls of Philadelphia. Back then, fans were staying warm with the latest in sideline-to-top row fashions…the fur coat.

The year was 1934. And, in the middle of the Great Depression, Americans of all ages saw sports , especially football, as a much needed escape.

When Coach Warner came to Philadelphia to coach the Temple U. Owls, South Philadelphia businessman Joe Tomlin met Pop Warner at a winter banquet and asked him to lecture at a spring clinic Tomlin was planning for his pioneering Junior Football Conference teams.

On the evening of April 19, 1934, the temperature in Philly dropped to frigid low, made worse by high winds and torrential rain mixed with sleet. Of the dozen area college football coaches scheduled to speak at Joe Tomlin’s clinic, only Pop Warner showed up. And, although no photos exist of the moment he arrived, it’s said that Coach Warner walked through the front door of the hall wearing…you guessed it…a warm fur coat. The 800 excited young JFC football players kept Pop talking and answering questions for two hours. At the end of the evening, by popular acclaim, the fledging youth program was renamed the “Pop Warner Conference”.

And, that same year, a lightning-quick running back from tiny Bluefield College in Virginia named Chandos Albert “Pete” Young was the basking in the limelight as the nation’s leading scorer during his 1933 season at Bluefield College. Pete Young, a longtime fan of Coach Warner, had scored 128 points while leading Bluefield to its first and only undefeated season. The nation honored Pete Young with a ceremony emceed by Lowell Thomas, who had hosted the first-ever television news broadcast in 1930. During the ceremony, Rudy Vallee, popular singer, actor, bandleader and entertainer of the day, performed his song “Mr. Touchdown USA,” written in honor of Pete Young.

Now, fur coats went out decades ago, about the time Joe Namath adorned sidelines dressed in bell-bottoms and ermine (See This Link).

And, today, songs like “We Will Rock You!” boom across speakers at many a Pop Warner game today.

But, cool breezes that bring out the warm hoodies, and echoes of “Mr. Touchdown” that live on, still remind us of how Pete Young, Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner and the great game of football warmed-up America 80 years ago, on the night Pop Warner Football was born.

If you’d like to here a rousing version of the Rudy Vallee’s tribute to Pete “Mr. Touchdown” Young, click here.

“Hollywood Endings!” Pop Warner’s Fantastic Football Finishes

by Bob Field, Jr.- Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Pop Warner fans lucky enough to be on hand for all the great football action at ESPN Wide World Of Sports this week knows that, at any second, a game that might seem out of reach to one team suddenly turns into a barn-burner to rival top NFL finishes.

And, talk about “Hollywood Endings”! The first three days of D-1, D-2 and Unlimited games have already seen a couple of two point squeakers , one overtime game, and arguably the best game so far…a 2 OT D-1 Jr. Midget classic between the Virginia Beach Mustangs and the Far West Jets.

With less than 5:00 minutes left in regulation play of this under-the-lights capper on a great Sunday slate of D-1 games, the always strong Mustangs looked to be cruising to a 12-0 victory. But, as the great Yogi Berra said of all sports…”It ain’t over till it’s over!”

A Virginia Beach fumble, followed by a rejuvenated Jets offense, led to a Far West touchdown that narrowed the score to 12-6. Then, another turnover by the Mustangs gave the Jets the chance to keep the momentum going. And, suddenly, with no time left on the clock, a short pass to the tailback led to the game-tying touchdown!

Neither team scored in the first overtime. But, in the second overtime , a bad case of fumblitous, continued to plague Virginia Beach. Far West could now smell paydirt. And, yes, the chance for a miraculous come-from-behind win!

For a look at what they pulled off, click on this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg4JGLJ_pNQ&list=PLGCnRUys-Sm8677hybSi4PvbpswEmEepY

Yep, a “classic” in the best tradition of the Pop Warner Super Bowl. Watch for more great highlights, and more “Hollywood Endings” as Pop Warner Super Bowl -2014 rolls on!

“Feet! Squeeze! Sink! Buzz!”- Pop Warner “Mom’s Clinic” Draws Raves!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Monday, December 8, 2014
It’s no secret that SAFETY (capitalization intended) is of prime concern to parents of young athletes these days, especially parents of football players. Fear not, folks. It’s also of prime concern to everyone at Pop Warner!

That’s why, beginning in 2010, Pop Warner became the leading advocate in youth sports for concussion safety nationwide. It’s also why they’ve subsequently teamed up with the NFL, USA Football, The Institute of Sports Medicine, IMG Sports Academy, nutritionists, pediatric sports medicine physicians, educators and parents nationwide to provide the most comprehensive approach to injury prevention, proper nutrition and safety in every aspect of Pop Warner football and cheer.

Center stage for showcasing that effort at this year’s Pp Warner Super Bowl was today’s “Mom’s Clinic,” held at Champion Stadium on the ESPN Wide World Sports complex.

Rainy skies did not dampen spirits of the Mom’s Clinic participants as they heard chockful-of-practical information from the likes of Dr. Tony Strickland- Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Dr. Cynthia LaBella- Medical Director for the Institute of Sports Medicine, popular nutritionist and author of Food & Mood and The Happiness Diet - Elizabeth Somer, and Chris Golic (wife of 8 yr. NFL veteran defensive tackle and co-host of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike In The Morning” Mike Golic), whose two sons followed in dad’s cleat marks as teammates at Notre Dame.

A hit of the clinic occurred when several dozen Pop Warner moms headed onto the field at Champion Stadium for a first-hand lesson in safe tackling technique with USA Football’s infectiously enthusiastic Manager of Master Trainers - Michael Haynes.

As a former defensive All Pro with the NFL Chicago Bears, a popular highly successful school assistant principal and the father of three energetic youngsters, Michael Haynes talked about using simple language and terminology any kid could understand as the basis for instilling consciousness of strong fundamental techniques, and safe execution of those techniques, in Pop Warner practices and games.

Staring with "Coach" Michael’s easy-to-understand commands of "Feet! Squeeze! Sink! Buzz!" Moms jumped right in, bringing their newly-learned skills, and boundless energies, to bear on a collection of unsuspecting tackling dummies. Take a look at the video clip link to see some of the fun and good “Heads Up” technique these Pop Warner moms learned from Coach Michael.

Yes, good teaching, good coaching, simple and direct approaches. All are key to promoting proper safety, and encouraging both proper hydration and good nutrition, as Pop Warner continues to set the standard for helping young athletes to eat right, play safe and ensure their future success and well-being in the game we all love so much.

For more information on Pop Warner’s commitment to safety, click on the link www.popwarner.com/football/footballsafety.htm

For more information on USA Football and their “Heads Up” program, click on usafootball.com/headsup

For more information on Elizabeth Somers, and her books, click on www.elizabethsomer.com/books.html

SATURDAY FUN FACTS: ONE POP WARNER FAMILY’S SUPER SURPRISE!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Sunday, December 7, 2014
This year, and every year, “family fun” is a key to the Pop Warner Super Bowl experience. But, unfortunately, it’s not always possible for a parent to make it to what, for many Pop Warner players and cheer/dance squad members, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This year, however, provided us all with one of the best family get-togethers at the Pop Warner Super Bowl ever.

It all took place at the HP Field House late afternoon on Saturday. 9 yr. old Adison Karliss and her Tri Town Raiderette had just finished their terrific routine when the event announcer for the Mitey Mite cheer event asked all the Raiderettes to stay on the mats for a “special announcement.”

Before anyone knew it, young Adison got the surprise of her young life. Out from behind the big red curtain, still in his military fatigues, strode her beaming dad, Scott Karliss, back from his 5th tour of duty with the Navy SEABEES in Afghanistan. With tears of total joy in her eyes, Adison turned and ran to her dad’s open arms.

And, when mom, Jamie Karliss joined them for a family embrace there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In fact, the entire crowd rose for a standing ovation while chants of “USA! USA!” and “We Are Proud of You! Say, We Are Proud of You!” echoed through the hall. Now, there’s a Pop Warner family fun memory we’ll never forget!

For video of their magical reunion, take a look here.

POP WARNER TEAM-MOMS ROCK!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Sunday, December 7, 2014
When the Colorado Springs War Dogs registered their opening game win in Division II Pee Wee play yesterday, a good part of their success came from lots of tactical attention to weather conditions and how to keep players fresh. It was a warm one yesterday, 80-plus degrees to be exact. And, from start to finish of their game against the Hoffman Estates Red Hawks, War Dogs team moms and their ever-able Pop Warner assistants, kept pouring on the water.

Players were the constant beneficiaries of H2O to drink, cold wet towels for necks, and mist sprays for steaming heads. As a result, the War Dogs energy stayed solid the whole game, when hydration was all-important. And, here’s the thing. Colorado Springs team moms are used to meeting the challenges of all the changing weather conditions their War Dogs have faced in their run to Pop Warner Super Bowl- 2014.

When it came to facing 30 degree temps (with a wind-chill in the teens !) during their regional win, Colorado Springs team moms provided players with good sideline slurps of hot chicken soup from thermos bottles. Talk about preparation!

Speaking of Pop Warner Moms, tomorrow Pop Warner Super Bowl Week will be featuring the first ever “Mom’s Workshop” on rules, safety training, nutrition and more. Chris Golik, whose two sons and husband Mike ( former defensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles and co-host of “Mike and Mike In the Morning” on ESPN Radio) have been not only premiere players, but strong advocates of good football fundamentals, will join the workshop participants.

Chris and a team of experts will be inviting all Pop Warner Moms to a two-hour interactive clinic on what makes Pop Warner football emphasis on safety, nutrition and sound fundamentals all-important for every member of the Pop Warner Family. The “Mom’s Workshop” (open to Dad’s and coaches, as well) will be held at Champion Stadium on the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex from 10:00 am-Noon tomorrow, Monday, December 8th. This one looks to be a “can’t miss” for all of us!

“Mitey Mites Are Mighty Fine!” – It’s Jamboree Time At Pop Warner

by Bob Field, Jr.- Sunday, December 7, 2014
There’s nothing better for kicking off Pop Warner Super Bowl week than the second annual Mitey Mite Jamboree Bowl. And, on a warm, sun-drenched Saturday at ESPN Wide World of Sports, yesterday’s action provided a whole lot of Pop Warner families with their first ever experience in football competition at its finest.

The Tubbs family from Texas, the Bauer family from Georgia, and the Lawrence family from North Carolina were among all the Pop Warner folks playing for, and rooting for, Mitey Mites teams from Pop Warner regions all over the country. And, to say they loved every minute of this hugely popular event would be an equally huge understatement.

The Jamboree format allowed each Mitey Mite team to play two games, under a running clock of 25 minutes per game. With a one-hour break for rest and refreshment, the Jamboree format gave each team a chance to really show their stuff in this first level of Pop Warner tackle football competition played under high school rules.

For the Bauer family from Georgia, the excitement of this super event was the perfect capper on an equally super first-season Pop Warner experience. Just take a listen to what Don and Deborah Bauer had to say about what Pop Warner meant to them this year; especially, how it allayed any pre-season nervousness they had about the safety of the game for their son, and other football loving youngsters, starting their Pop Warner experience.

Andrea Tubbs from Arlington, Texas, cheering on her son Jeremy, joined the chorus of parents whose excitement over Pop Warner’s “absolutely tops” Mitey Mite program is absolutely infectious. Check out just part of what Andrea and Jeremy had to say on Mitey Mite Jamboree day.

And, then, there were the Lawrence’s from North Carolina. Talk about all-in-the-family! Saturday’s Jamboree included the Lawrence twins, 9-year-old Rhian (yep, “Rhian” is a girl) and brother Landen, having a blast playing Mitey Mite football for the Durham’s Ragin’ Eagles.

Rhian is a tough running back and a hard-hitting linebacker, and Coach McPhatter extols her early football sense. In a recent interview, Coach McPhatter told Durham Herald Sun reporter Dan Way, “Rhian’s been phenomenal. A running back takes a lot of hits, and a linebacker gives a lot of hits. Rhian gives and takes with the best of them.“ All of which is fine with Rhian, who says, ““I was never really into dolls. I like running, and I like to play rough, and this is the one sport where I could.”

Brother Landen is pretty darned good, too. Due to his strength, Coach McPhatter has Landen playing defensive end, where he can keep opposing backs contained on the inside, rather than running wide for big gainers.

Having registered seven sacks on the season, Landen is a defensive force to be reckoned with. “For defensive end, I’m faster than most people because I run track, so I get off the ball faster and I get to the spot I need to be,” says Landen.

The Ragin’ Eagles had a 10-2 record this season, earning them one of two Pop Warner Mid-South Region spots in yesterday’s Mitey Mite Jamboree. They played the Holy Cross Knights from San Antonio, Texas (and topped them 8-0) and the Franklin Township Warriors from Franklin Township, N.J. (whom they also topped, this time by a score of 13-0).

But, even more than going two-for-two at the Mitey Mite Jamboree, Coach McPhatter, himself a former Pop Warner player, said that by playing Pop Warner Mitey Mite football, young athletes “Take the all –important first step in learning to gain a solid understanding of discipline, teamwork and leadership, which will help them in school and in life.”

And, the big celebration of Pop Warner Mitey Mites didn’t end with Jamboree format football games. A HUGE all-teams photo outside the Josten Center, followed by an even bigger Saturday night party, inside Josten, kept the fun and camaraderie going for everyone involved in one of Pop Warner’s fastest growing programs!

Yep, Pop Warner Mitey Mites are mighty fine, and growing strong! Want more proof? Just check out the team cheer for the Mitey Mite Northwest Elite Lions from Chicago!

“Little Helmets, Big Hearts!” – A Tiny Mite Story To Inspire Us All!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Sunday, December 7, 2014

Watching the Tiny Mite exhibition game here at ESPN Wide World of Sports is always fun, and yesterday’s game was no exception. AKA “Little Helmets Running Around The Field” belies the fact that these 5 and 6 year old first – time Pop Warner tackle football stalwarts are serious about playing the game, and sharing the fun, the right way; and, thanks to the tireless work of a very dedicated bunch of coaches and volunteers in Pop Warner Tiny Mite programs all over the country, they will.

One of the best of those stories this year brought a Central Virginia Pop Warner Tiny Mite coach into the national spotlight as a finalist in the NFL’s second annual “Together We Make Football” contest. The coach’s name is Felicia Correa-Garcia, and the story of her road to working with an enthusiastic and dedicated young football players captures the Pop Warner Spirit beautifully!

As Felicia tells it, “When I was a kid, I was the typical tom-boy. I was always in the street playing whatever sports the boys were playing. My older brother Tracy made sure that I knew my sports. “

At the age of 9, Felicia’s family moved from Philadelphia to Charlottesville, VA where her brother would frequently gather kids to play football. “Tracy would always have me as his secret weapon, “says Felicia.

Fast forward to 2012. Then living in Lynchburg VA with her five children, Felicia became the Team Mom of the R.S. Payne Dragons 5-6 yr. old Tiny Mites. “During the first practice, I noticed that Coach James had no assistance so I began helping him. He quickly realized that I knew my stuff and declined any other help that was offered to him.”

But, the following March, while working as the Clinical Care Director at a local assisted living facility, Felicia suddenly experienced extreme blurred vision, facial numbness and the inability to process simple thoughts. Her blood pressure shot up to 210/120. A neurologist ordered blood work and an MRI which yielded the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Despite the setback, and a battle with heat intolerance, Felicia continued to coach fundamentals to aspiring 5-6 yr. old Tiny Mites.

Then, in May of this year, due to multiple relapses, medication changes, respiratory infections and ER visits Felicia decided to move her kids back to Charlottesville where they were closer to family.

“I worried that I would be unable to coach and would have to prove myself all over again,” recalls Felicia. “But, while moving in, I met a neighbor who was moving out. Tony Payne just so happened to be the Central Virginia Pop Warner Commissioner. I told him that I wanted to coach the little people and desired to teach ‘fundamentals to winners’. I was given the head coach position of the Tiny Mite Patriots. One day before practice I was told by my neurologist that my MS had progressed, likely due to my medication not working for me. I was literally sobbed all the way to practice. But once there, neither my bad news nor my MS crossed my mind. I even felt better after practice and haven't cried since.”

The following week, Felicia had to have three days of steroid therapy at the University of Virginia’s cancer center. Still, nothing would stop Coach Felicia now! “Immediately after treatment, with my saline locked in place, I went right to practice. Although we technically don't keep score, my Tiny Mite Patriots earned a 6-0 record this season! “

Coach Felicia wants to thank her entire Tiny Mite Patriot team, and the whole Central Virginia Pop Warner Family, for all their support. “This season has been especially trying with my health,” says Felicia. “But, these boys gave me the fight that I needed to keep going when everything else seemed to be going wrong. Our team saying is ‘One Team One Sound.’ They manage to scream that as loud as they possibly can as often as they can as a reminder that they are one team, whether we are sad, happy, winning, or losing. I often think of ways that I can repay 5-7 year olds for what they have given me. They have given me a reason to smile through the tears and pain and look forward to the future one Sunday at a time.” But, you know. I’m guessing it’s Coach Felicia’s unflagging spirit and dedication to her team that causes THEM to smile.

Congratulations to Coach Felicia for giving us a terrific example of how the will teach & coach young Pop Warner kids, at the most impressionable level, can pay life-long dividends for everyone. And good luck, Coach Felicia, in the “Together We Make Football”- 2014 contest!

Welcome To GREAT 58'!!!

by Bob Field, Jr.- Sunday, December 7, 2014
Record Numbers Headline Pop Warner’s 2014 Super Bowl Week At ESPN Wide World of Sports

It’s that time again, Pop Warner fans. We’re headed into the 58th Annual Pop Warner Super Bowl and the 20th anniversary of this great event at fabulous ESPN Wide World of Sports. And, lemme tell you, it all just keeps getting better and better!

This year, the HP Field House will be rockin’ to the fabulous routines of over 450 cheer and dance squads. Meanwhile, on the football fields, the non-stop action will feature…count ‘em…95 football teams representing every Pop Warner region in the U.S. , plus Canada, Mexico and …wait for it…the United Arab Emirates!

Yes siree, every year, just when I think I’ve seen it all, Pop Warner’s magical Super Bowl week at ESPN Wide World of Sports delivers a brand new package of surprises, and yesterday’s opening action was no exception.

It all started Saturday morning when I had a chance to talk with folks from Georgia, Texas, and more, who had traveled here to cheer on 16 Mitey-Mite teams in an all-day Mitey Mite Football and Cheer Jamboree. Watch for more on my “Field Notes” blog on this terrific event.

I also had the chance Saturday to talk with an NFL legend, Joe Namath, the rifle-armed architect of the NY Jets breakthrough AFL win over the then prohibitive favorite Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. And, just to show you how time passes, Joe was on hand yesterday for both the coin flip of a Division II Pee Wee game, AND to watch his adorable 4 yr old granddaughter perform with a Mitey-Mite cheer squad. Take a look at the conversation I had with “Broadway Joe.” He has some great things to say about “lessons learned” for everyone in the Pop Warner Family.

And, not to forget the Colorado Springs War Dogs, winners of their opening game challenge in this week’s Division II Pee Wee national championship run. They provided us with an excellent example of how Team Moms can anchor the family spirit and well-being of everyone on a Pop Warner football team squad. Look for more on that cool story as well.

Hey, and this year, along with loads of coverage from our friends at ESPN 3, we look forward to the very first “live” broadcast of the Division I Midget Championship game next Saturday, December 13th at 1:00 PM on ESPN.

As the 2014 Pop Warner Super Bowl week kicks into gear, welcome to Pop Warner’s “Great ‘58”. So, buckle your chinstraps and shake out those pom-pons and get set for loads of brand new surprises coming up all day, everyday from ESPN Wide World of Sports.

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