Nov. 6—Plum Midget Football Association teams went 1-1 in Super Bowl championship games as the Allegheny Youth Football League wrapped up its 2022 season Oct. 29.
The Stallions (10U) completed an undefeated season (10-0) with a 13-0 win over Lower Burrell in the championship game at Bushman Field in Natrona Heights.
"They said defense wins championships, and for us, it couldn't have been more true," Stallions coach Tony Bonura said.
"I told the boys that I still talk to a lot of the guys I played 10U and 12U football with to this day. We talk about the games and the championships and all the fun we had. With this group, they will be able to do that for years and years. No one can ever take away this title.
"The fact that they are winning at a young age, they are learning how to win. When you learn how to win, you also learn how not to lose. Hopefully, that, along with the camaraderie they developed, sticks with them."
The title game was 6-0 in the fourth quarter before Plum scored late to seal the title. Valen Pierre scored both touchdowns in the victory on runs of more than 50 yards.
"We moved the ball well but were looking for that home run," Bonura said. "Valen was that home run."
The Stallions first-team defense surrendered just one touchdown all season.
"The boys played excellent defense all season," Bonura said.
"They were pretty dominant."
The Little Mustangs faced the Rams Youth Football Organization — located in the Highlands School District — for the AYFL 12U title.
Plum, which finished its season 8-2, hoped for a different outcome from the loss to RYFO in the regular-season finale, but RYFO pulled away for a 26-8 victory at Bushman Field.
"It was pretty close until late," Little Mustangs coach Joel Kline said.
"It was 8-8 with 30 seconds to go in the third quarter. It was a battle. They had two really big stud running backs. We did a great job, but at the end, we just ran out of steam. "
Ma'Noah Wright scored the Little Mustangs' lone touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Domenic Lauletta. The TD capped the opening drive of the second half and tied the score, 8-8.
Running back Cole Little, a key producer of offense in the regular season, was injured in the Little Mustangs' 28-14 home semifinal playoff win over Brentwood and couldn't play in the championship game.
"I was so proud of the way the kids played in that title game," Kline said. "They fought to the end and played hard. We just came up a little bit short."
Of the 36 on the Little Mustangs roster, 18 were set to take part in Saturday's Senior Bowl game at noon at Plum. The game involving all the seniors on every team in the league was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.
This weekend, the entire Little Mustangs team will travel to Columbus for a four-team tournament.
"It is the final games of their run," Kline said.
The Colts 8U team finished its season 4-4. The team was young with just three second-year players on a roster of 25.
The Pony Flag team — ages 5 and 6 — finished its season undefeated.
"This was one of our more successful seasons in recent years," Harchick said.
"It was the most kids we've had in years, too. We're very pleased with that, and I think we can keep it up. There's a lot of excitement for the future with how everyone did this year. The organization has been around for more than 50 years, and we've seen it through all 50 years that the kids do well here and move on to the junior high and then the high school teams. We're excited that we can continue to be that foundation for these players."
Harchick said the support of the Plum varsity players and coaches is so valuable to the Midget players.
Matt Morgan, Plum varsity head coach, is on the PMFA board of directors and is a coach.
"We always try to align his playbook with our playbook, so the kids are able to get comfortable with the plays as they move through the different levels," Harchick said.
"The kids really look up to the high school players. They love going to games on Friday nights. We have our annual bonfire at the Plum Borough fields every year in October, and Matt got as many players as he could to come down and pump the kids up. (Star running back) Eryck Moore-Watkins attended a couple recent games, and his presence was very inspirational to the kids."
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 724-226-4665, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .