Poland Township trustees paid tribute to a football team at last week's township meeting. The members of the Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association's 7-8 year-old Panthers team had earned their way into the national championships in Kissimmee, Fla., on Jan. 19.
The team played their regular season in the fall and finished with an 8-1 record. They were one of the two top teams out of the 30 teams in the YYFFA to make it to the SuperBowl, where they won the local title. From there, the team entered the United States Flag and Touch Football League regionals in Perry, Ohio, where they ended up defeating Mentor 20-12. That win earned them a spot in the national tournament in Florida on Jan. 19.
Head coach Dean Marantis said they almost didn't make the trip to Florida as two families decided not to go, which left the team short. He asked his son and team member George Marantis what he thought about going short-handed.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Members of the Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association's Panthers were honored at the Feb. 11 meeting of the Poland Township trustees. The team won the national championship in 7-8 year-old flag football on Jan. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla. Pictured in Florida are team members, in front, Dylan Thomas and Jacob Allsopp; in second row, Chase Forsyth, Bryce Barringer, George Marantis, Derek Thomas, Carson Maurer and Antonio DáAlesio; and in back row, head coach Dean Marantis and assistant coach Dan Frum.
"George replied that he still thought the team could win the national championship, even short-handed." Marantis said. "I was really fired up after George said that to me. I thought, 'If my son believes we can win down there, then so do I.'"
They made the trip to Florida and into the final round against a Miami team that was last year's national champions. They played the game to a scoreless ending for regular play and went into overtime. It was the Poland team that scored on a pass from George Marantis to Jacob Allsopp that gave the Panthers their first national title.
Trustees wanted to show their pride in the team, which is a rare one for the YYFFA. Of the 30 teams in the league, most have players from multiple communities. The Panthers are made up of only Poland kids and coaches.
"Just think, last year's national champions were from Miami, Fla. This year's national champions are from Poland, Ohio," Coach Marantis said.
Each team member and coach received a proclamation from trustees to honor their national achievement.
On another matter, trustees agreed to apply for Ohio Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School grant to continue the recent project.
Township administrator Jim Scharville said, "This is the next phase that will fund sidewalks on Dobbins Road that will connect to the new sidewalks on Ohio 170."
Scharville said he would love to see all the developments on Dobbins connected to the high school and Dobbins Elementary. He also mentioned that like the grant for Ohio 170, this one would be 100 percent funded through the ODOT program.
"Not one cent would come from the taxpayers," he said.
Another project mentioned at the meeting involved Township Park. Park Committee Chairman Mike Heher reported the installation of water and sewer lines to the park will begin soon. He also mentioned the fundraising for an indoor sports facility is still on-going. The hope is to fund the facility by donations.