Allegheny Youth Football League wraps up with trio of title games
Games that begin with back-to-back kickoff returns rarely fail to disappoint, and Saturday afternoon's didn't. Backed by Brayden Stone's three-touchdown performance, the No. 3-seeded Burrell Cadets scored 16 fourth-quarter points for a 30-20 come-from-behind win over the top-seeded Rams Youth Football Organization Tigers in the Allegheny Youth Football League's 125-pound Super Bowl at Springdale's Veteran Memorial Stadium.
“These boys know how to come back. They're a good group of kids, and they're just resilient,” Burrell coach Keith Logut said. “I've never coached a group of kids like this. They don't know how to lose, and they don't want to lose. They make us look good as coaches.”
The win marks the Cadets' third consecutive Super Bowl victory in the 125-pound class.
Things couldn't have started any quicker. Stone grabbed the opening kickoff and raced for a 65-yard touchdown to give Burrell (6-2) an 8-0 lead after Stone's run for the 2-point conversion.
“That was amazing,” Stone said describing his kickoff return. “I was really excited because I was little nervous because it was the Super Bowl.”
It was going to take more than that to down RYFO (7-1). On the ensuing kickoff, Tigers playmaker Menage Lucas returned the kick down the RYFO sideline for a 63-yard score and 2-point conversion to knot the score with 48 seconds elapsed. After that, folks in the bleachers knew they were in for a good one.
“We started this game with two kickoff returns off the jump, and I was scared after that one went back,” Logut said.
The return by Lucas swung the game's momentum in RYFO's favor. Lucas capped off a seven-play, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to put the Tigers up 14-8 after the failed 2-point attempt. The Cadets defense had no answer, early on, for Lucas' speed and athletic ability. He finished the game with 86 rushing yards on 18 carries to lead the Tigers.
The Burrell offense marched down the field in four plays before Tucker Bitar found the end zone on a 4-yard run to tie the score at 14-14 going into halftime.
RYFO's Jermaine Beard scored on a 59-yard touchdown run on the Tigers' first play to start the second half. The Tigers had a chance to pad their lead when Beard intercepted a Bitar pass and returned it 29 yards to the Burrell 39-yard line, but the RYFO offense went flat.
That opened the door for Stone, who scored on fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 5 and 9 yards. He finished with a game-high 130 yards on 24 carries.
“We put the game on his shoulders, especially at the end of the game,” Logut said. “When you're trying to win a football game like this, you try and get the ball to your best player and that's what we did.”
Freeport 27, Armstrong 0 — Backed by Ben Lane's two-touchdown, 90-yard rushing performance, the top-seeded Jackets left little doubt with a win over No. 3 Armstrong in their fourth straight 145-pound division Super Bowl.
“We just focus game by game,” Freeport coach Sean King said. “A lot of things came together.”
Armstrong (5-3) started the by recovering its onside kick to take over at the Freeport 49-yard line. On the Warriors' first play from scrimmage, Freeport's Cam Schlegel scooped up a loose ball in the backfield and sprinted 40 yards to give the Jackets an 8-0 lead after Gavin Croney connected with Schlegel for the 2-point conversion.
Ben Lane scored on a 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to extend 14-0 after the failed conversion. Lane finished with a game-high 90 yards on 10 carries. Lane added another 2-yard score in the second quarter to give the Jackets a 21-0 halftime lead. Caleb Hoffman scored from a yard to complete the scoring. Croney finished 6 of 9 for 60 yards and one interception for Freeport (8-0).
Deer Lakes 20, Freeport 6 — Deer Lakes used two second-quarter touchdowns to grab a 12-0 lead as the No. 1-seeded Tomahawks downed No. 2 Freeport in the 105-pound division.
Deer Lakes (8-0) quarterback Evan Moore connected with Tyler Smart for a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Tomahawks a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter. Colby Borowski added a 39-yard touchdown run to give Deer Lakes a 12-0 with 11 seconds remaining in the first half. Xiah Ninehouser scored on a 9-yard run to extended the Tomahawks' lead to 20-0 in the fourth quarter. Borowski finished with 104 rushing yards on 10 carries. Freeport (6-2) got on the board when Brody Bauman scored on a 2-yard run to avoid the shutout. Bauman rushed for a game-high 127 yards on 26 carries.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.