Two teams from Chandler Youth Football will be spending the first week of December in Orlando, Fla., trying to take care of a little business.
The Blitz (ages 9-11) and the Red Raiders (11-14) have qualified for the American Youth Football national championship tournament Dec. 1-8.
It’s nothing new for the Red Raiders, who are coached by Manny Del Valle and finished third in last year’s invitational division.
Blitz coach Steve Dunn has also made a trip or two to nationals in the past while coaching in Tucson.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to send two teams from four levels to nationals,” Chandler Youth Football president Dee Grayer said of the league, which count Chicago Bears safety and former Arizona State player Adam Archuleta among its alumni.
The Blitz beat the Tucson Cowboys 24-8, and the Red Raiders topped the Oro Valley Dolphins 22-6 at regional competition Nov. 17 at Tucson High School.
Each team will be guaranteed at least two games at nationals and three wins in Orlando will earn them the champions’ Taft Trophy.
Del Valle’s team is 10-1 and mercy-ruled competitors five times this season in games where they had to play against senior midget squads that included 15-year-olds.
“I’ve got a great group of kids,” Del Valle said. “They are committed to going to nationals and think they have a great chance of winning it all.”
Del Valle, a captain in the Chandler Fire Department, has used a lot of vacation hours to spend time coaching the kids.
“But I have some awesome parents helping as assistants (Wes Henson, Dave Anderson, Jay Toupin, Scott Neff and Rod Kronschnabel) who are equally committed,” Del Valle said.
The Red Raiders have 14 kids who have been there before and 14 new members this season.
Ty Ahlquist, Travis Anderson, Alex Burgoyne, Dylan Chambal, Bryce Cole, Heeder Crouch, Brock Davis, Danny Del Valle, Deondre Frisson, Dylan Gauthier, Josh Haye, Nick Henson, Marcus Jones, Joe Kronschnabel, Brent Miller, Bobby Milus, Jared Neff, Ryan Patterson, Paul Quinn, Clayton Rollefstad, Cristian Ruiz, Jorge Ruiz, Joe Shultz, Landon Smith, Chase Toupin, Nicholas Varela, Zach Werdean and Mykal Ybarra will be representing Arizona at Orlando with the Red Raiders.
The Blitz, who boast two members of the Chandler National Little League team that advanced to the U.S. semifinals of the 2007 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., are making their first trip to nationals.
They are Justin Dawson, Brooks Dunn, Brandon Fisher, Cody Gabala, Trye Hatch, Jacob Hayes, Evan Kronschnabel, Dalton Krum, Brockton Lamb, Zach Lamb, Cody Luczak, Kevin McFarland, Rajhan Meriwether, Parker Neff, Nick Ramirez, Justin Renner, Dallin Sharp, Levi Sterling, Trevor Stonebraker, Edward Tanabe, Tres Tarwater, Tanner Teague, Estavan Ulibarri, Christian White, Boston Whitlow and Dusty Wright.
Dunn’s assistants are Darwin Tarwater, Miguel Meriwether, Ray Whitlow, Karl Krum, Darin Tarwater, Rick Cunningham and Shawn Wright.
Nine young men from Mesa won their NFL Flag Football regional tournament and qualified for the national championship tournament, which was contested Nov. 17 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. (Orlando is quite a popular destination for youth football!)
Top Flight Football, which is based in Gilbert and is sponsored by the Arizona Cardinals, is home of the Bills. The team of 9- to 11-year-olds advanced to nationals by winning their 32-team regional over squads from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
In their six-game regular season, the boys went 6-1, outscoring their opponents 327-45. However the competition at the seven-team nationals was a little more powerful than the teams they faced at home.
“The boys did well but they came up short,” proud father Tim Hunt said of their efforts in Orlando. “They played four games and won one. But they played with a lot of heart in every single game.”
Hunt said most of the kids are only in their second season of playing together.
Austin and Hunter Denham, Peyton Everett, Brigham and Cole Farnsworth, Joshua Hunt, Robby Millward, Smith Pothier, Nate Schlappi and Luke Shill are the Bills. They are coached by Mark Shill and Tom Farnsworth.
Let’s talk turkey
Gobble, gobble: Valley residents anguishing about how they overate on Thanksgiving Day can work off their worries for free on Friday at all five Valley Gold’s Gyms (Ahwatukee Foothills, Gilbert, Mesa, Peoria and Scottsdale). The free passes are available to local residents only and a valid ID must be shown. All locations are open 24/7. Call (888) 465-3715.
When a strike is a good thing: Former Diamondbacks pitcher Russ Ortiz, currently with the Giants, will host the third Celebrity Rock-N-Bowl Bash from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at Brunswick Via Linda Lanes in Scottsdale. Celebrity guests invited to attend include Major League Baseball players from across the nation (including former Diamondback Luis Gonzalez), individuals from local teams including the Suns, Coyotes, Cardinals, Mercury and other local celebrities. All proceeds will benefit the Ortiz Family Foundation to help further their work in supporting local and national foundations and charities. Tickets are $200, which includes an exclusive celebrity autograph session, celebrity bowling, Outback Steakhouse lunch, event gift bag and unique silent auction items. Tickets are available for purchase at www.ortizfamilyfoundation.com or call (602) 518-1287.
Chandler Youth Football fundraisers
It’s going to take a lot of money to send 60-plus kids and coaches to Orlando, Fla. Here are ways you can help with the expenses:
Friday: Chick-Fil-A Night at 2900 E. Germann Road in Chandler . A percentage of the proceeds goes to the teams, (480) 812-1717
Saturday: Golf tourney at Crown Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort (One San Marcos Place in Chandler), 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. (480) 812-0900
Monday: Pizza Factory at 950 E. Riggs Road in Chandler (Riggs and McQueen Road), 6-9 p.m. 10 percent of proceeds to the teams, (480) 814-1970
Wednesday: Boston’s Gourmet Pizza at 1026 S. Gilbert Road in the Gilbert Town Square, 5:30-11 p.m., 70 percent of proceeds to the teams, (480) 813-9223
Cash donations: Wells Fargo Bank, account No. 1404927350
Sharpshooters: Advantage Basketball camps are accepting registration for its winter 2007 session scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26-28 at Arizona State. The camps are consistently rated as one of the top ball-handling camps in the world and picked as one of the top camps in the country by Sports Illustrated. For information, call (800) 670-0013 or visit www.advantagebasketball.com.
You can do it: To post a sports announcement on our online calendar visit evtrib.com and click on the calendar located on the home page. Just follow the instructions and your everyone will soon know about your event.
Know someone who deserves mention in East Valley Victories? E-mail or call Billye Jill Paulson at email@example.com or (480) 898-6862.