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Rec Roundup: NWI Pop Warner teams to play regionls at MC

Updated: December 23, 2013 2:51PM



As region temperatures are forecast to be at or below freezing for the weekend, some local Pop Warner teams are preparing for football action to heat up.

Michigan City’s Ames Field will be the host site on Saturday for Northern Indiana Pop Warner Little Scholars competition as Division II and III teams seek Mid-America regional championships.

Among the Northwest Indiana squads participating are the Valparaiso PW junior pee wees. The 8-1 Vikings will face a perennial power in the Bedford Heights (Ohio) Saints. Earning a regional title also qualifies D-II teams for the Pop Warner Super Bowl, which is played in Orlando, Fla., during the first week of December.

Vikings coach Jeff Howard believes he leads an outstanding group of kids.

“When we started this season we weren’t sure what was going to happen, especially going into the junior pee wee level,” said Howard of the boys that are from 9 to 11 years old. “Then (the players) started to understand the system we are on… and here we are. They will not give up.”

Howard said the team continued with a recent scheduled practice on the day the area saw its first significant snowfall. Adjusting to the winter-like conditions is just a small sacrifice on the way to its “one goal” of advancing to nationals. The Vikings will take the field in Michigan City for the regional semifinals at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

In Highland, the 8-0 junior midget Titans are preparing to meet their PW D-III opponents from Bensenville, Ill., at 4 p.m. in the Mid-Am semis.

Unlike the D-II Vikings team, the Titans will not be competing to go to Florida. Yet the opportunity to be crowned the Mid-Am champs would be a thrill, according to the junior midgets coach and Highland PW president Mark Alvarado.

The team of 11- and 12-year-olds — part of a resurgent program — has stepped up its practices, which are held at Highland High School under the lights.

Griffith Pop Warner cheer squad wins regional: Every so often those making the most cheerful noise at games are due some applause as well. Officials at the Griffith Pop Warner organization recently announced that two of their cheer squads could take a bow for their accomplishments at the Mid-American regional competition held at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

On Nov. 10, the Panthers pee wee medium Level 3 team took first place in its division. That feat qualified it for nationals, which are held at the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

The group consists of 20 girls from ages 9 to12. They are: Kayla Atkinson, Kelis Campos, Payton Carlson, Mariah Dickerson, Lacy Edwards, Carrington Habina, Olivia Halley, Tianna Harris, Tierra Harris, Taylor Hill, Andria Johnson, Alyssa Lawrence, Stephanie Lester, Carissa Mansfield, Rhyan Noldin, Mireya Pena, Brooke Rassel, Ashley Shepard, Kayla Slachta and Kylee Taylor.

“This team went to nationals (at the ESPN complex) last year, but sadly, did not come home with a trophy,” Kristina Taylor, a parent and Griffith Pop Warner volunteer, wrote in an e-mail. “This year they have come together, practiced harder, and are more determined than ever to come home with a trophy.”

Competition for the pee wee medium Level 3 team is slated for Dec. 10 in Florida.

Taylor also noted the hard work the Panthers junior pee wee medium Level 2 team put into their season. The squad earned a third-place at the Mid-Am regionals at NIU.



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