Penn Hills youth football teams capture Three Rivers Football League titles
After knocking on the doorstep the past couple of seasons, two Penn Hills Midget football teams got over the hump by capturing championship titles in their respective divisions.
The Penn Hills Braves, led by coach Larry Fielder, defeated Monessen, 18-8, to capture the 7- to 9-year-old division championship in the Three Rivers Football League on Oct. 27 at Brentwood High School.
“My team stepped up to the challenge after losing two straight championships in a row. The third one was the charm, and we came through,” Fielder said.
“The kids worked tremendously hard. They overcame the obstacles, and they worked hard all season.”
The Braves got touchdowns from quarterback Nelson Coleman and running back Braylon Green. Coleman scored the first touchdown in the first half from a yard out, while Green scampered for a 45-yard touchdown run to extend it to a 14-0 lead. Green was named most valuable player of the championship game.
The Braves allowed their first points of the season when the Greyhounds scored in the fourth quarter. With time expiring, the Braves returned a fumble to clinch the victory.
The Braves reached the championship game after defeating South Allegheny, 40-0, in the opening round.
In the 10- and 11-year-old division, the Penn Hills Indians, led by coach Dylan Parson, defeated Monessen, 14-7, to avenge a championship game loss to the Greyhounds a season ago.
“I feel like for the kids this is something that we’ve been waiting on for years. The last couple of years, we would make it to the championship or the game before the championship and we would come up a little bit short,” Parson said.
“We had a new team this year except for a couple, but they understood how it felt last year to lose the championship and all that it took to get back to the championship.”
The Indians had to deal with injury during the championship game as quarterback Stephen Vandiver went down and had to be replaced by Dyson Harper. Amauri Shields, Kenneth Lewis, Anjay Chambers and Kenneth Wallace all contributed for the Indians in the championship season.
The Indians defeated Brentwood, 36-6, in the opening round.
The season for both teams isn’t over just yet as they will both participate in the Hall of Fame Youth Gridiron Classic from Nov. 9-11 in Canton, Ohio. The Braves will participate in the 9-and-under division, while the Indians registered to participate in the 11-and-under division.
Parson hasn’t visited the Hall of Fame and is excited to experience it with his players and coaches.
“To be able to take the kids there is a surreal moment for me. I’ve never been there. I feel like going up there and seeing the legends that played the game is a beautiful moment. We get a chance to play against some teams and see how we match up,” Parson said.
Fielder is excited to be back in Canton, as he will get a chance to visit the Hall of Fame again. But he’s most excited to show off Canton to the kids on the Braves, and he’s hoping to come home with a championship.
“We’re going up there to have fun. We as coaches try to not make it like a job. If it’s not fun to them, then I think as coaches we are doing something wrong,” Fielder said.
“We want them to make this a life experience. A lot of the kids haven’t been to Canton, Ohio, and seen the Hall of Fame. We want to win this tournament not only for the city of Pittsburgh but the neighborhood of Penn Hills.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.