Home-grown teams reign supreme at state championships

Home-grown teams reign supreme at state championships
November 12
00:00 2015

In above photo: Makhi Purvis of the Panthers finds running room against the Saints in the Cadets Division. (Photo by Craig T. Greenlee)

Five local teams are still alive in postseason play.

The South Fork Panthers had two teams to emerge victorious at the Division I American Youth Football State Championships held in Charlotte last week. The Pfafftown Packers, Kernersville Raiders and Tiny Indians also won state titles in their respective divisions.

The Panthers teams, along with the Raiders and Indians, advance to the AYF South Atlantic Regionals set for Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte. Regional winners qualify for the AYF National Championships scheduled for Dec. 6-13 in Kissimmee, Fla. Pfafftown was awarded a wild-card berth to the nationals. Here’s a summary of the action in each age group:

Pee Wees (11-12): Kernersville’s Raiders bolted out of the starting blocks with three touchdowns in the first half to set the tone in a 38-14 victory over the Mint Hill Mountaineers. In the process, the Raiders showcased considerable offensive balance.

Raneiria Dillworth and Antonio Yates of the Raiders put their big-play skills on full display with two touchdowns apiece. Dillworth scored on a 9-yard run and on a 63-yard pass from Caden Davis. Yates stunned the Mountaineers with a 78-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and added another score when he caught a 27-yard pass from Davis at the end of the third quarter.

Issac Sutton scored late in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard run. In the final seconds, Arrington Jones intercepted a pass and ran it back 97 yards for a touchdown. Kernersville led 19-0 at halftime.

Mint Hill scored its first touchdown in the third quarter on Korey Hunter’s 5-yard run. The Mountaineers scored again early in the fourth when Hunter fired a 29-yard pass to Bryan Stewart.

“Early in the game, we scored quickly, and that took Mint Hill out of its power running game,” said coach Dennis Dolesh. “Another factor was our speed, which was too much for them to handle. I was very pleased with how much production we got from our passing game. Our offensive line protected well and that was key.”

Junior Midgets (12-13): It didn’t take long for the Packers to overwhelm undermanned Mint Hill. Pfafftown was never pressed and won in a 46-6 blow-out.

“This was a case of our team having too much size and too much speed,” said coach Gary Warren. “So now, ‘The Show’ is going to Florida.  We’re going to work hard these next few weeks so we’ll be prepared.”

Four first-half touchdowns was all the Packers needed to call this game a wrap. G’Mone Wilson ran back the opening kickoff for an 82-yard touchdown and four minutes later, Ahmani Marshall bedazzled the Mountaineers with a 50-yard touchdown run. By intermission, the game belonged to the Packers, who bolted to a 28-0 lead.

Marshall and Jeremiahy Jackson finished the night with two touchdown runs apiece and Micah Crowell picked off a pass and ran it back 55 yards for a score early in the third quarter.

“This is the best group I’ve ever coached, and that’s not only from a talent aspect,” said Warren. “Grades, parental supports, attitude – they’re the best in every way you can think of. Some have joined us from different organizations. Many were the top players on the teams they came from, and they have sacrificed playing time and made the commitment it takes to compete at the highest possible level.”

Mighty Mites (9-and-Under): South Fork put the Gstop Sabres on lock-down from start to finish in a 19-0 win. For the defense, spearheaded by Khadlje (KJ) Johnson, it was the ninth consecutive shut-out.

Johnson found an opening up the middle and ran 30 yards for South Fork’s first touchdown. Gavin Hardy followed up with a 45-yard scoring run. Quesean Brown, whose nickname is “Mr. U-P-S,” added the finishing touches when he darted past defenders for a 62-yard touchdown.

“The key for us (on defense) was to contain the outside and bring pressure from the interior,” said coach Javon Manley, whose team is 9-0. “As a unit, our defense played so well that I really can’t single out  any one player over the others.”

Tiny Mites (7-and-Under): The Tiny Indians made a second-half comeback to earn a 12-6 victory over the Gtop Sabres. Trailing by a touchdown late in the third quarter, Jordan Tate scored on a 25-yard run off a quarterback bootleg to tie the game 6-6.

On the Sabres next offensive possession, Therin Thacker of the Indians recovered a fumble deep in Gtop’s territory. A few plays later, Kolby Spainhour scored the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard run.

“Our defense had its best game of the season,” said coach Leonard Green. “The Sabres had that long touchdown run (50 yards). But after that, everything they ran went for negative yardage. No doubt, that fumble was the game-changer.”

Junior Pee Wees (10-11): The Panthers defense delivered when it mattered most in a 14-7 win over the Gtop Sabres. With his team clinging to an 8-7 lead with 6:26 to go in the game, Nasir Graham stripped a Sabres runner of the ball in the end zone and Jahnaul Ritzie-Pouncey recovered for the game-winning score.

Gtop put together a frantic scoring drive in the waning seconds. On the final play of the game, Panthers cornerback Charles Miller made an open-field tackle on a Sabres receiver at the 5-yard line to prevent Gtop from potentially tieing the game.

Tremaine Pate put South Fork (9-0) on top when he scored on a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Panthers gave up their first touchdown of the season in the state title game. A year ago, South Fork finished third at the AYF nationals.

“All season long we’ve stood on our defense which has bailed us out,” said coach Steve Keaton. “This team showed heart. They could have laid  down after the Sabres scored on that long touchdown run, but they didn’t.”

Although this wasn’t a high-scoring contest, quarterback Kamron Hill’s accurate passing helped his team establish enough offensive balance to keep the Sabres defense from focusing on stopping the run. On defense, Will Mensh was  a key contributor at cornerback.

Cadets (9-10): James Galloway scored twice in the first half, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Panthers from suffering a 25-12 loss to the Beatties Ford Saints.

The game was tied 12-12 at the half and stayed that way until late in the third quarter when the Saints scored on a short run. They added a final score in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

On two occasions, Galloway took a hand-off on a reverse and outmaneuvered the defense on touchdown runs of 30 and 75 yards.

“Turnovers killed us today,” said first-year head coach Jamal Hill, whose team finished the season at 8-1. “They capitalized off our mistakes. But our kids continued to fight until the very end. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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