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    Players get taste of the big time

    By NANCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 16, 2000


    Adream for several young players was fulfilled last weekend.

    Each of the four varsity champions from the Pinellas Youth Football Conference and Suncoast Youth Football Conference were invited by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission to face off with Hillsborough County conference champs.

    The winners advanced to the Game Day of Champions at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

    Winning preliminary games and qualifying for last weekend's competition at RJS were the Dunedin Jr. Falcons pee wee teams, Countryside Jr. Cougars and Largo Jr. Packers mighty mite squads and St. Pete 'Lil Devils and Clearwater Jr. Tornadoes flyweight teams.

    "We played a well-coached Brandon team," Dunedin coach Denis Gillen, said.

    Dunedin received some "crucial" runs from Tony Conley, Brandon Filer, Chris Santiago and Lamar Green, as well as strong defensive play from Chris Loftus, Chris Barnard and Eric Cornell.

    The day's events included team pictures taken in the Bucs' pirate ship. Before their games, players lined up in the tunnel to be announced and ran to the 50-yard line.

    "Our players enjoyed everything," said Jerry Mahorney, Countryside's mighty mite coach.

    "We warmed up and stretched in the locker room before running out onto the field," he said. "It was an unbelievable experience for the boys."

    Against Largo, the Cougars scored on a 4-yard run by Chaz Powell, a 60-yard reverse from Anthony Jackson and an 8-yard quarterback keeper by Lucas Darr. Kicker Matt Darr hit all three extra points.

    In the flyweight game, Clearwater jumped off to a 6-0 lead on a pass from Luke Loucks to Darrius Anderson, who ran 25 yards.

    St. Pete responded on a pass play by Larry Murphy, and Maurice Wheeler scored the extra point for a 7-6 lead. Anderson then intercepted a pass and ran 25 yards for a second touchdown.

    In the second half, Loucks scored a third touchdown on a 10-yard run and threw to Daniel Sanford for the point after to make it 19-7.

    St.Pete ripped off two touchdowns and extra points in the closing minutes to take a 21-19 advantage. An interception sealed the win for the 'Lil Devils.

    SYFC CHEERLEADERS: Countryside won three of four varsity Suncoast Youth Football Conference cheering titles and all three junior varsity championships.

    The Azalea Bulldogs captured the pee wee title and finished third in the varsity flyweight competition. Dunedin was second in flyweight, mighty mite and pee wee divisions, and Clearwater was second in the midget.

    GYMNASTICS: LaFleur's of Largo scored the highest finish at second in Level 4 of the State Championships in Daytona Beach.

    The Gemini School of Gymnastics was third, and the Tampa Bay Turners were fourth. American Twisters in Pompano Beach were first.

    All-around state champions included Kaley LaFleur, Brynn Fullmer, Ashleigh Johansen and Alana Rivera from LaFleur's; Lauryn Kannard from Gemini; and Lacie McCord from Tampa Bay.

    LaFleur scored the highest all-around overall.

    Event champions included LaFleur (vault and uneven bars), Fullmer (vault), Johansen (vault, bars and balance beam), Rivera (vault and floor), Danielle Jones (vault) and Wjitley Curran (bars) from LaFleur's; Kannard (vault and floor) from Gemini; McCord (vault and floor) from the Tampa Bay Turners; and Samantha Stephan (vault) from Bayside.

    AAU GIRLS: The Apollo School of Gymnastics in Clearwater won the Level 5 title and was second in Level 4 ofthe State Championships in Tampa.

    Alyssa Cory was seventh all-around in Level 5 and was joined by Elizabeth Foley and Laura Piehl, who finished 11th eighth, respectively.

    Stephanie Kostakis won the floor exercise in Level 6 and was second on the beam and in the all-around.

    Stephanie Hessling took the bars title and was seventh all-around in Level 4. Also scoring top all-around finishes were Katie Wolf (sixth), Kelly Wilsey (seventh) and Kendra Miller (eighth).

    Medalist All-Star Gymnastics in St. Petersburg placed four teams in the top 10, including a runner-up finish in Level 6.

    Its Level 5 squad was third, Level 4 10th and Level 3 fourth.

    Leading Level 6 were Tirzah Bailey and Briana Stiles, who finished third all-around in their respective age divisions, and Marissa Bragg, fourth all-around and the winner in the balance beam.

    Rounding out the Level 6 top-10 results were Andrea Bairam (sixth), Christine Sayler (seventh) and Claire Ferrari (ninth).

    Medalist Level 4 gymnast Melinda Scouras won the all-around in her division, along with finishing second on the beam, fourth in vault, sixth on uneven bars and 10th in floor exercise.

    Other top-10 awards were earned by Jessica Hoffman (second), Jordan Weber, Jessica Burgess (fourth), Meredith Henry (fifth), Joy Mahoney (sixth), Kerrie MacNeil (seventh) and Samantha Triplett (10th).

    Top scores were earned in Level 5 by Christina Dimas and Dalila Lemezan (fourth), Shealyn Fuller (sixth) and Samantha Dimas (ninth).

    BOYS GYMNASTICS: Apollo scored two team victories in the Judges Cup in Tampa last weekend.

    First-place Class 7 was led by Tomily Bourgoing, Bradley Hutson and Jessee Scott.

    Bourgoing was third all-around and won the parallel bars title. Hutson finished fourth all-around and captured the bars championship in his age division. Scott was ninth all-around.

    The Class 5 crown was a result of the second all-around placement of Jordan Loscalzo, a sixth-place performance from Victor Valenty and eighth by Garit Brittain.

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