The 10-week regular season in the Pinellas Youth Football Conference is complete, but every team in the 37-year-old PYFC is in the running for a championship.
For more than 10 seasons, the conference has scheduled its playoffs to include the top eight squads. With eight organizations in the PYFC, that means every team participates.
"Most teams get better as the season goes on, so the playoffs are like starting all over with a clean slate," PYFC president Geneva Waters said. "In the past, we've had some unexpected results and upsets."
Undefeated through 10 games in the varsity division were Largo in the Flyweights, Manatee in the Mighty Mites and St. Pete in the Pee Wees. The Silver Raiders (9-1) were first in Midgets. In junior varsity action, Gibbs No. 2 was 10-0 in Flyweights and St. Pete 7-0 in Pee Wees. St. Pete No. 1 was 9-1 to lead the Mighty Mites. Finishing at the top of the youngest division, Flag, is Child's Park.
"One of the key things we want to do is reach these kids and be their mentors," Greenwood president Carlos Lang said. "We want to be more than just coaches and have a greater, more positive impact on their lives."
One of the ways Lang, a 10-year Clearwater policeman, hopes to accomplish his goal is by establishing a partnership with the African-American Leadership Council, which provides resources for counseling, after-school tutoring and awareness programs. An example was covering the registration fee of about 70 youths in the Pee Wees and Midgets divisions that participated in a substance abuse awareness program offered by the council.
"I see a lot of our players on a daily basis during my work as a community policeman," Lang said. "I hope we can recruit more of them for our organization. In addition to the football and cheerleading, we can keep them occupied in a positive way that may influence them in different ways."
Lang, in his second year as president, relies on vice-president Joe Marshall, second VP Ira Bush, athletic director Reynolds Miller, secretary Erlene Rouse, registrar Shanetta Poinsette and cheerleading coordinator Kimberly Walker.
"I think having the quarterfinal playoff is a very positive concept," Lang said. "It's a great coaching tactic to be able to tell your players that after the last game, the slate is wiped clean and anything can happen."
Lang is optimistic about Greenwood's chances. Coaching changes, including Wilfred Holmes taking over the Pee Wees and Robert Whiting the Midgets, helped the organization improve.
Greenwood's Pee Wees (7-3) and Midgets (6-3) each finished third. Though the Mighty Mites were 3-7, Lang says the team may be a playoff sleeper with the leadership of coach Robert Alexander. The Flyweights struggled, but Tom Wilson's Panthers are geared for the postseason.
JV coaches include Willie Saison (Flyweights), Miller (Mighty Mites) and Carlos Mobley (Flag).
The first-round games are today and Sunday at Child's Park Sports Complex and in Manatee. Semifinals are Nov. 8-9 at Manatee's Southeast High, and championships are Nov. 15-16 at Bradenton Sports Complex.
SYFC: This weekend is the final regular-season matchup in the Suncoast Youth Football Conference. Quarterfinal playoffs are Nov. 8 at Countryside. Semifinals are Nov. 15 at Tarpon Springs, with varsity finals Nov. 22 and JV title games Nov. 23 at Northeast High.
PPAL FOOTBALL: In the Pasco Police Athletic League, the East Lake Eagles face their final regular-season opponent today when five squads travel to Wesley Chapel. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the Flag division, games continue with Flyweights, Mighty Mites, Junior Varsity and Varsity. East Lake's Flyweight, Mighty Mites and JV teams are first in the Western Conference's Southeast Division. The varsity is second. League playoffs start Nov. 8.
GYMNASTICS: Gemini, Bayside, LaFleur's of Largo and Apollo competed in last month's Gasparilla Meet in Tampa.
The Gemini School of Gymnastics in Oldsmar won eight individual events and one all-around title. Gemini's Level 4 event champions were Carleigh Buckmaster (uneven bars), Hailey Gardiner (vault/bars) and Katie Hackett (vault). In Level 5 it was Destiny Ezell (bars/vault) and Joette Amundaray (vault), in Level 6 Falon Canham (bars). Canham was first all-around.
Bayside Gymnastics placed four members in Level 6 top-10 all-around. Brittany Tanner was sixth, Lacy Buck seventh, Sara Wright ninth and Samantha Stephan 10th. Taylor Ball (fifth all-around), Maegan Carlson (seventh), Allasyn Lieneck (seventh) and Shelby Hilton (eighth) led the club's Level 5 team.
LaFleur's Level 4 all-around champs were Morgan Marks, Katelyn Greenleaf, Rebecca Wunderlich, Taylor Lents and Nikki Wiseman. In Level 5, it was Jenna Spady, Rachel Meyers and Mary Michael Toups. Apollo's top all-around performances were produced in Level 4 by Caitlyn Kovach (first), Sarah Spurgeon (third), Miranda Sears (second) and Miranda Frohlich (third). Molly Nelson was third in Level 5.
LaFleur's AAU gymnasts Courtney Buheit was second in Level 3 and Kayla Duffee fifth.Jaymi March won vault and Buheit floor exercise. In Level 4, Stephanie Jeffords was tops in all-around, vault, balance beam and floor. Tying for third were Mallory Leary and Amanda Maxwell. Event winners included Leary (beam) and Haley McHugh (vault).
LaFleur's won Level 4 and 5, Gemini was fifth in Level 4 and second in Level 5, Bayside Level 6 was second and Apollo was third in Level 4. In AAU competition, LaFleur's was second in Level 3 and third in Level 4.
SWIMMING: Clearwater Aquatics Team swimmers Matt Davis, in 10-and-under; Jose Cescimbeni, 13-14; and Clay Bullock, senior boys; were among the high-point winners in the West Florida Lightning Aquatics Halloween Open. CAT placed second among 22 clubs. Host WFLA was third, Tampa Bay Community Aquatics fourth, Dunedin Aquatic Club seventh, Swim Team at Countryside eighth and East Lake Woodlands 13th. Other local winners were TBAY's Tripp Lawson, 8-and-under boys; SPA's Tracy Rorer, 11-12 girls; and Cameron Chambers, 11-12 boys.
+ The U.S. Men's Open Water Polo Championships are Thursday-Nov. 9 at Clearwater's Doyle Long Center. The 16-team event will include about 12 American squads and Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Puerto Rico.