Sports

Palo Alto Knights Jr. Midgets heading to national playoffs

 

It's holiday time for the Palo Alto Knights' football program. First up is Thanksgiving this week and then Christmas next month. In between, however, maybe something even more special for the players and their families.

The Palo Alto Knights Jr. Midget team year olds) is headed to Florida next week to compete in the 2015 American Youth Football (AYF) National Championships in Orlando. Action runs Dec. 6-11. The Knights will head to Florida on Friday, Dec. 4.

Palo Alto will play in an eight-team bracket, with first-round games on Dec. 6, semifinals on Dec. 8 and the championship set for Dec. 10.

The Knights earned their 11th trip to the nationals since 1999 by earning an automatic berth after going 8-0 during the regular season. A new rule allowed teams to drop from Division I to Division II at season's end if they had two or more losses. The Knights dominated at such a high level (averaging 36 points a game), that all the competition opted out of the higher division -- allowing Palo Alto the automatic berth.

Palo Alto, however, proved the invitation was well-deserved by sweeping through postseason playoff games with a 60-28 rout of the Vacaville Bengals and a 30-0 triumph over the Sacramento Ducks in the NorCal Division I Championship game on Sunday at Oak Grove High in San Jose.

Eric Borjon is making his second trip to nations as head coach. He also made the journey as an assistant coach to current interim president Mike Piha, who led eight different Palo Alto teams to the National Championships -- Pop Warner and AYF -- with his last team going in 2012.

The Knights are still seeking their first national championship after finishing second and third on their previous trips to Orlando. This season, however, is different than in past years.

The Jr. Midget team of 11-12 year olds was strengthened by the merger with the East Palo Alto Greyhounds earlier in the year, providing the two successful programs with great coaches and talented players. Eric Stewart, who coached the East Palo Alto Greyhounds to the Pop Warner National Championships (finishing fourth) in 2013, joins Borjon as the co-head coach. Both are seeking their first national crown.

The Jr. Midgets have scored 65 touchdowns (506 points) and only allowed five touchdowns (34 points) through 10 games, leading the league and nation in both categories.

"This might be the most talented Knights team we have had ever.," said Piha. "Coaches Eric and Eric have done an outstanding job in building a team environment and a 'family' with these two programs. That is not an easy task."

The team is seeking to raise $50,000 for travel and accommodations, which includes bring a cheer squad. Donations may be made by clicking here or Palo Alto Knights, PO Box 403, Palo Alto, CA, 94302.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Party pooper
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Please come to your senses and don't send these kids to Florida. This is too much money and many of these families can't afford it. They fly to Florida and spend a week (when they should be in school) in hotels and play two to three games and call it a national championship. Truth be told, the hotels in Florida use this youth football championship to fill hotel rooms and make money at a time that is slow for hotels and low occupancy. It's a marketing coup, but comes at the expense of families and kids who should spend that time at home in class. Many of the kids who play on these teams are from working class families, including many of the kids who play on the Knights. The teams will say it's optional for the kids, but once the kids know they are invited it's very hard to play the heavy and say your kid can't go with his team. The leaders of the Knights should stand up and say we aren't going to let our families get soaked by these hotels any longer. It's not a national championship -- it's a joke and the hotels are soaking these families of hard earned money.


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Posted by James
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm

I'm surprised the PAW uses space on little kids playing football. I could care less and I think most folks have similar feelings. I am interested in college sports, high school sports, and middle school sports. I'm also interested in an occasional story about a local competitive team that has an outstanding season. But I find the PAW's obsession with reporting on this group strange.


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Posted by Eric Stuart from the greyhounds
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Nov 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm

To Resident……..this is the first story on this team in more than two years……I can't recall anything written on the Palo Alto Knights since then….the paper certainly isn't obsessing over this program. And, whether you care less about this sport has nothing to do with anything. The team qualified for a national championship and is 10-0, which makes it news at any level.


6 people like this
Posted by Neighborly
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:04 am


I feel sorry for you if you don't see the benefits for these kids to feel the reward for all the sacrifice they have put in to get where they are.

Sports it's the best life choice out there to bring all kinds of people together. Children and their families. Allow them to develop team spirit, pride in their work and develop comrardere.

If you haven't donated, please do, I have, It's a good cause,

Good luck guys,


2 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2015 at 8:56 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Coach Piha
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:50 am

Congratulations to the Palo Alto Knights players and coaches for an outstanding season, they will represent the city of Palo Alto in Orlando, FL with class! It is a great experience for these young boys to travel and play teams from all parts of the country...I still hear from past Palo Alto Knights players (and parents) about the memories and incredible time they had playing in these games and meeting other players from New York, Florida, Chicago, Washington DC, Virginia etc...well deserved and good luck!

Go Knights!!


6 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm

"I am interested in college sports"

Major League Baseballer - Joc Pedersen from the Dodgers and NFL Wide Receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers both played for the Knights, amongst many college players. There are some amazing kids that have worked hard through this program. Good luck in FL!


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Posted by Party pooper
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm

@james and @coach piha

[Portion removed.] To tell these boys and this community that this is the equivalent of winning a national championship when they only play 2 to 3 games is unconscionable. To make their parents pay thousands of dollars for flights and hotel rooms is just wrong. The kids spend most of the week watching TV. One day may be spent at Disney world, but it is not a learning experience. If you want kids to play more games against other teams, set them up here in the Bay Area. There are plenty of teams they could play here for a championship and it would save their families lots of money and not require them to miss classes. The adults need to set a good example for these kids and send a message about what is in their best interests. This is really sad that the Knights continue to do this to families year after year.


10 people like this
Posted by william
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm

These kids set out to accomplish a goal and they achieved it. I have watched 5 games this season and these kids are special. They are polite hard working kids from working class families.The idea that they should not participate because their parents are not wealthy is misguided. The kids excel in the classroom and on the field. Their only objective has been to earn a chance to compete against the best. Party Pooper, earning a chance to play against the best is the goal from day one and contrary to your statement that it's not a national championship, I believe a trip to Florida would open your mind and you heart.I wish you could go with them to enjoy the experience .Getting to the national championship is very hard and these kids did it with class. Resident, these are Junior high school players that will play at your local high school next year not " little kids". [Portion removed.] Good luck in Florida boys and girls.


7 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Party pooper, as a parent of 2 high school athletes I couldn't disagee more. Traveling with team to compete at a high level is a major part of sports. Yes, it can be expensive and time consuming but the experience is unforgettable. I assume your experiences were not as positive so we can agree to disagree. Unfortunately the best teams and players live in Florida,Texas or Maryland for football and Texas for track and field. I have seen these young athletes win all of their games here and lose badly in the national competition because they were never tested at home. I have seen the same kids come back the following year do very well because they learned that being a big fish in a small pond is not the end game. Being the best you can be is the goal even if a few hotels make alittle money :) Good luck boys and girls don't let the negative thoughts of a few people here derail your journey. You will be competing for the rest of your lives so learning how to do it early is invaluable.


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Posted by really
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

to miss a week of school for this is absurd. i could see if it were a week-end or maybe even a friday and/ or monday off--but not the whole week. and, for what 2 or 3 games at the most? every year these teams go to Florida--whether they win the league or not. not even California High School teams have "Nationals". it is very expensive--it is a week away from school. there is far better usage of the time and money being spent. where are all the pop warner football teams? why are there only 8 in northern California? maybe parents are wising up to the dangerous injuries that these boys could get and do get--some just aren't noticeable until later in life. even soccer is making it against the rules for no head-butting until a certain age--all the head traumas will be of real concern as these players mature. poor equipment, poor medical attention and management 90% of the time


7 people like this
Posted by yes really
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 25, 2015 at 2:29 pm

@really - some facts for you.

The Norcal American Youth Football Region had 140 teams this year across 22 associations. The Knights program now fields 180 kids up from 120, Two years ago.

They don't send kids to Florida each year, the last time they sent a team was in 2012.

Kids are not allowed to play football games on back to back days for safety reasons. Hence why you can't play 3 games over a weekend.

When you watch the football this thanksgiving, think about where the players come from. When the packers play, look for #17 - He was a Palo Alto Knight.

With all the suicides in this district from over-pressuring kids, I would think that playing sports is a far better option and statistically safer.


6 people like this
Posted by Coach T
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Congratulations to the Palo Alto Knights for their accomplishment. These kids worked hard and earned themselves the opportunity to win a national title. The community of Palo Alto should be PROUD. Keep up the hard work Knights!!


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Posted by party pooper
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

@ Coach T and @ yes really

This is being billed as a national championship, but it hardly is a national championship. These kids have won 10 games and, if they win two more, they are national champions? You've got to be kidding me. This is a joke and it's a joke that costs lots of money for families who can't afford it. As I said earlier, the hotel industry is smart and they have figured out a very clever way to fill hotel rooms at a very quiet time. Kids playing foootball are the very kids who should be in school studying for finals. Missing a week of school just before finals is harmful. They are much better off being taught the value of school than playing two more football games in Florida. There was a Knights team sent there a few years back who ended up being wholly mismatched against a team that was much bigger. Some of the players on the teams playing against the Knights were twice the weight -- it was a complete mismatch. One of the kids came home with a serious concussion. This isn't about depriving kids who can't afford it. It doesn't make sense for any kid -- rich or poor -- to travel this distance for what cannot honestly be called a "national championship". You don't have to travel to Florida and spend thousands of hard earned dollars to learn the value of sports and to get a good team experience. It sounds like these kids have had a great season -- congrats to them and their coaches!! Let's all give them a pat on the back and say job well done. Why does a trip to Florida, with a sham championship -- dozens of teams who go walk away saying they are national champions after winning only two games -- take away from the great team/players they already are. Someone should say great season, now time to hit the books and not waste time or money.


10 people like this
Posted by yes really
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:42 pm

@poopy

It's 3 games. Interestingly, that's the same number of games that the New England Patriots played post season to win the Super bowl last year.

8 teams, the best from the regions around the US participate. It's pretty simple. Win the first game, its final 4, win that and you're in the championship game. Does that make sense?

How many conspiracies are you going to come up with? Hotels - would you rather do this in peak season? Do you think the hotels set up the football season for youth football nation wide.

I was there a few years back, they weren't mismatched. They won one game against a team from Detroit, it was a very inspiring performance. Again, you're incorrect that the kids were twice the weight - there are age/weight restrictions for our league and this tournament. It seems like you're just blurting out lots of thoughts without any direct experience or data.

It's cool that you'd rather everyone just sit down and study for finals. But making stuff up isn't cool.

Happy Thanksgiving.


4 people like this
Posted by Poops bud
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Party Pooper, i respect you opinion the evils of traveling youth sports,the hotel industry and and football in general. We as parents see value that you do not.Yes, i can find other places to spend money but I choose this for many reasons. I will support these kids because I believe this will be a really good experience. Your 2 games is not a national championship argument makes no sense.the Knights are not the champions of Palo Alto they are the champions of a region that stretches from sacramento to san jose and back to san francisco. They are the northern california champions. The will play teams from equally large regions across the country. Only the best of the best will represent their regions. How many games do you fewl should be played to satisfy your definition of national?. Also, the ayf rules do not allow the weight discrepancy your stated. Your information is wrong. F There are concussions in all sports including football,soccer,bmx and each is getting safer each year due to better training and equipment. Finally,each student is required to work with their teachers to provide the work that will be covered while they are gone. American youth football provides college tutors for all of the players everyday during the study hall session. Good luck boys and girls. We will be rooting for you. Party pooper you can root for the kids by watching online. I'm sure you will and i am sure you will enjoy the competition. Have a good evening


Like this comment
Posted by party pooper
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm

I am absolutely not making this stuff up. I have a friend who was on the sidelines for the games that year, there was not a weight limit, just an age limit. Ask the Knights if that happened. It wasn't every kid, but there were kids on the other team that weighed 50 + pounds more than the kids on the Knights. Moreover, while the kids on the Knights were told to bring their books for study hall, that absolutely never happened...they don't study on these trips. I have talked with numerous kids who traveled to these games and all of them said they never studied. When they aren't playing the games, they either sit in the hotel rooms and watch tv or spend one day in Disneyworld. I'm not against kids playing the game, just think this trip is such a waste of money and time for these kids and their families. Congrats on a great season.


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