By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 17, 2000
A dream for several young players was fulfilled.
Each of the four varsity champions from the Pinellas Youth Football Conference and Suncoast Youth Football Conference recently 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 the competition at RJS were the St. Pete 'Lil Devils and Clearwater Jr. Tornadoes flyweight teams, Countryside Jr. Cougars and Largo Jr. Packers mighty mite squads and the Dunedin Jr. Falcons pee wee club.
In the Game Day of Champions playoffs, the 'Lil Devils squeaked past Clearwater 21-19 in the flyweight division. Countryside's mighty mites beat Largo 24-8, Dunedin played past the Brandon Cowboys 12-6.
In the midget contest, the Progress Village team of the Tampa Bay Youth League beat the Turkey Creek Trojans from the Florida Youth League 25-6.
"Our kids had the experience of a lifetime," said Kenneth Smith, St. Pete's flyweight coach. "We had a chance to go into the locker room and get a taste of the NFL experience."
The 'Lil Devils scored first in the flyweight game on a pass play by Larry Murphy. Maurice Wheeler kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Clearwater rattled off three touchdowns and two extra points to nab the lead, 19-7, in the third quarter.
"In the fourth quarter, we put together two touchdowns with extra points," Smith said of the two-time PYFC champion 'Lil Devils.
Quarterback Zachary Grant gave Anthony Kincy the ball, and he scored on a 30-yard run. Marcus Russ converted the point after to make it 19-14.
With just two minutes remaining in the fourth, Dontrell Townsend created a Clearwater fumble that Murphy recovered. Murphy then snagged a Grant pass and scrambled 35 yards to score.
Grant ran a quarterback keeper to give St. Pete a 21-19 advantage. Clearwater had the ball at the end of the game, but Javon Oliver intercepted a pass that secured the victory.
The mighty mite Cougars turned back a Tampa team that had been unbeaten for two years, reaching the Game Day of Champions.
The Game Day of Champions, in its second year and promoted and supported by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Glazer Family Foundation, included the Hillsborough County All-Star High School Football Game.
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. The Northeast Bandits were third in the varsity mighty mite and midget divisions.
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 was 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: Medalist All-Star Gymnastics in St. Petersburg placed four teams in the top 10 in the State Championships in Tampa earlier this month, including a runner-up finish in Level 6.
The club's Level 5 team 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 division, and Marissa Bragg, who placed fourth all-around and won the balance beam competition..
Rounding out the Level 6 top 10 were Andrea Bairam, sixth; Christine Sayler, seventh; and Claire Ferrari, ninth.
Medalist Level 4 gymnast Melinda Scouras won the all-around in her age division, along with finishing second on the beam, fourth in vault, sixth on uneven bars and 10th in floor exercise.
Other all-around awards were earned by Jessica Hoffman, second; Jordan Weber and Jessica Burgess, fourth; Meredith Henry, fifth; Joy Mahoney, sixth; Kerrie MacNeil, seventh; and Samantha Triplett, 10th.
Top scores were recorded in Level 5 by Christina Dimas and Dalila Lemezan (fourth), Shealyn Fuller (sixth) and Samantha Dimas (ninth).
Sera Allard was third and Megan Dockerty ninth in Level 3. Kaitlin MacNeil was sixth and Jordan Hampton ninth.
The Apollo School of Gymnastics in Clearwater captured the Level 5 title and was second in Level 4.
Alyssa Cory was seventh all-around in Level 5 and was joined by Elizabeth Foley, who finished 11th, and Laura Piehl, eighth.
Stephanie Kostakis won the floor exercise championship 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.
Others earning top all-around finishes were Katie Wolf (sixth), Kelly Wilsey seventh) and Kendra Miller (eighth).
BOYS GYMNASTICS: Apollo scored two team victories in the Judges Cup recently in Tampa.
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.