By Bob Mortenson
Four teams. Two titles. One town buzzing with excitement and bursting with pride.
That’s the scenario building this week in Lake Stevens, where the Greater Snohomish County Youth Football League championships will be settled in both the midget and junior divisions Saturday.
And check this: All four teams are from Lake Stevens.
In the midget division, with 14 Snohomish County teams for boys ages 9 and 10, the defending champion Lake Stevens Fighting Irish will take on the Lake Stevens Rams at 2 p.m. at North Lake Middle School. Both teams come in sporting 9-0 records.
The title game for the junior division (11- and 12-year-olds) follows at 4 p.m. with the Lake Stevens Fighting Irish (8-1) facing off against the Lake Stevens Rams (7-2). These two teams finished at the top of a 15-team in the division.
“It’s huge,” Midget Rams coach Jim Gracia said. “I think this is the first time ever that four Lake Stevens teams have played in the championships.”
Many of the kids on all four teams are neighbors, classmates or teammates in other sports.
“I’ve probably coached at least a half dozen of their kids in baseball or flag football,” Gracia said.
“We’ve been building up to this all year,” Midget Fighting Irish coach Kim Shultz said. “We scrimmage against them in the preseason and the kids go to school together and are always talking.”
The Midget Rams fought their way through a grueling, seven-game regular season and two playoff games to reach the championship. Now they face a Fighting Irish squad that has lost just once in two seasons.
“They are a very good team, well-coached with good athletes,” Gracia said of the Fighting Irish.
In the Junior Division championship, the Rams will be looking to prevail after suffering a regular-season loss to the Fighting Irish.
“They beat two wonderful teams to get to the championship,” Junior Fighting Irish coach Gus Arendt said of the Rams. “It’s really nice to see all this talent come together in one community.”
All this football in one town can even challenge family loyalties. Just ask Mark Pulitano. His son Dominic plays for the Junior Rams and his younger son Joey plays for the Midget Fighting Irish. Mark Pulitano helps out with both teams.
“I’m very interested in the big Rams winning and the little Irish winning,” Pulitano said with a laugh.
“Basically there’s interest in this whole (youth football) program now,” Junior Ram coach Ron Paynter said. “People are just trying to figure out how many boys they know on each team and who they are going to root for.”
“It’s going to be competitive,” Gracia said. “But it’s going to be good for the kids, the parents and the community because of the camaraderie it builds.”
Given that, a convincing Lake Stevens victory seems assured.
Cyclones close out regular season: The Edmonds Cyclones Seniors ended their unbeaten regular season with a 19-8 triumph over the Mountlake Terrace Trojans on Sunday. Jesse Hoffman scored two touchdowns for the Cyclones while Sean Kelley shined on defense and also dashed 40 yards for a touchdown.
Lake Stevens trio shines at shootout: Firing shots at progressively more difficult targets, Cassy Osborn took first place in the U13 girls division at the Five State Elks Regional Soccer Shootout competition Saturday in Puyallup. Earning third place awards were Paul Pratt (U12 boys) and Sandra Osborn (U10 girls).
Revolution blanks Emerald City: Two-goal games by Lindsey Bos and Melissa von de Hofen propelled the Snohomish United Revolution U11 girls to a 5-0 victory over Emerald City. Danie Brklid added a goal while goalkeeper Bianca Rowland got the shutout as the Revolution improved to 8-1.
Strikers edge Avalanche: Erik Olsoy scored on a penalty kick with less than two minutes remaining to lift the FC Silver Lake Strikers U13 boys to a 3-2 victory over the Cascade Avalanche Sunday. First half goals by Olsoy and Eric Miller, the latter on a penalty kick, helped stake the Strikers to a 2-1 first-half lead. The Strikers improved to 9-2.
Fusion foil Enfuego: Jessi Ramback scored two goals as the Silver Lake Fusion U14 girls rallied to defeat the Cascade Select Enfuego 3-2 Saturday. Farrah Ragsdale added a goal on a penalty kick for the Fusion.