November 14, 2007 > Two Titan teams avenge earlier defeats and move on to regional semi-finals
Two Titan teams avenge earlier defeats and move on to regional semi-finals
By Biff Jones
Photos By TSS Photography
Pop Warner Football Midgets (ages 13-15) and Junior Midgets (ages 12-14) of the Tri-Cities Titans Association won Division II, Peninsula Conference championships Sunday, Nov. 11, at Yerba Buena High School in San Jose. For the Titan Midgets, it was a chance for redemption as they had their seven game regular season winning streak stopped by the Sunnyvale Rockets, 36-19. Meanwhile, the Jr. Midgets only loss during the regular season came at the hands of Delta Bay Buccaneers of Pittsburg, 26-6.
For Head Coach, Allen Lopez, his Jr. Midgets played a much different game than in their first meeting, as it was a defense gem until the final gun. The only score of the game came in the second quarter when Titan back, DeShane Heins ran the ball in from five yards out. The extra point was no good but the 6-0 lead stood up for the championship victory. Other standout offensive plays for Tri-Cities came from LaRon Sanders, Talot Aleem and Maurice Leggett. The defense play of the game was made by Elijah Muhammad, who broke up a pass that could have tied the game for the Buccaneers with the potential go ahead extra-point to follow.
Titans' older midgets played an even more exiting, low scoring game against the Sunnyvale Rockets. Midget Head Coach Law Johnson and his assistant, Troy Julian, had their hands full helping the 13-15 year olds hold off the defending national champions from Sunnyvale. Last year the Rockets won a Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Florida while playing as Jr. Midgets.
It was a scoreless first half in the Midgets' championship game until Titan running back Warren Morrison scored on a 35-yard run with 1:30 to play in the second quarter. Quarterback Ruben Quezada added the extra-point on a run up the middle to give Tri-Cities a 7-0 half-time lead. In Pop Warner games, kicked extra-points are worth two points while extra-points via the run or pass only count for one point. There are not too many fifteen and under youths that can kick field goals or extra-points; thus the reason for the reverse scoring from high school, college and pros.
The second half saw Tri-Cities take the ensuing kick-off and control the ball for over half of the third quarter. With 5:13 remaining in the third (they play ten minute quarters in Pop Warner), Quarterback Quezada broke off a 50-yard run for the games second touchdown. The following try for the extra-point was no good, but the Titans now held a 13-0 lead. Remainder of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters saw the Titan defense bend but not break, as they forced Sunnyvale to turn the ball over on downs more than once. Finally with about 6:50 to play in the fourth quarter, the Rockets, facing fourth and goal from about the 15-yard line completed a touchdown pass to cut the lead to 13-6.
Sunnyvale then kicked the extra-point to decrease the lead to 13-8. Now it was the Rockets' defenders turn to stiffen as they kept Tri-Cities pinned inside their own twenty yard line. Facing fourth and long at their own one yard line and 1:45 remaining in the game, the Titans took a safety. This made the score 13-10 Tri-Cities, but now the Titans were able take a free kick from their own 20-yard line. A five yard offside penalty against the Titan Midgets forced a re-kick from the 15. After the free kick, Sunnyvale had to start their final drive for a tie or a win from near mid-field. A 20-yard run moved the ball to Tri-Cities' 30. The Rockets then attempted to win the game with a pass to the end zone. However, this was to be the defending national champion's last hurrah as the pass was intercepted near the goal line by the Titans' Roger Estrada, his second pick of the day.
For both the Titan Midgets and Jr. Midgets, it is on to the Northwest Regional Semi-finals, this coming Sunday, Nov. 18 at Townsend Field in Buchser Middle School at 1111 Bellomy St., Santa Clara (across from Santa Clara University). The Jr. Midgets play at 4 p.m. against Albany Ravens, and the Midgets play at 6 p.m. vs. American Canyon Patriots. If either or both teams win this Sunday, they move on to regional finals the following weekend in Woodside, last stop before nationals in Orlando, Florida, January 2008.