Palo Alto Knights' Pee Wees advance to semis at nationals


The Palo Alto Knights' Pee Wee football team advanced to the semifinals of the American Youth Football (AYF) National Championships with a 28-0 victory over the Harlem Jets on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

The Knights will play the Phoenix Thunder on Tuesday at noon (ET), with the winner advancing to the national finals on Thursday.

Palo Alto posted its sixth straight shutout as the Knights dominated the Harlem Jets. Palo Alto's Ethan Stern scored two touchdowns and rushed for 146 yards.

Stern also threw a 58-yard pass to Jordan Schilling as the Knights controlled the ball for the first six minutes during a 67-yard drive that ended in a Jake Rittman throwing a 17-yard pass to Schilling for the score.

Harlem (10-1) never got its offense going as the Knights' defense only allowed one Jets' first down and only 38 yards of total offense.

"Our best defense was our offense," said Palo Alto coach Mike Piha, who is making a seventh appearance in the national playoffs. "We never gave Harlem a chance to showcase their speed. Our players played outstanding football for four quarters."

The Knights will play a Phoenix Thunder team that upset the top-seeded Fredricksberg Bears of Virginia, 30-26.

Piha is concerned with a Phoenix running back who gained more than 200 yards and scored four touchdowns in the opener.

"We have our hand full as the Thunder has probably the fastest running back out here," Piha said. "We will need to slow him down on Tuesday."

The Palo Alto Knights' Unlimited team also won its first-round game, topping the Boston Falcons with a fourth-quarter rally, 12-6.

In another youth football action, the Menlo-Atherton Vikings dropped a 12-6 decision to the College Station Raiders (Texas) in overtime in Division II Pee Wee competition of the 55th annual Pop Warner Super Bowl at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Blake Stenstrom threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Preston Devine for Menlo-Atherton's lone score.

The Vikings battled their way through regional competition and was one of 64 teams to qualify for the national championships.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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