Penn-Trafford captures Big East Youth Football League title

Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 11:01 AM

It was quite a turnaround for the Penn-Trafford 11-12 youth football team.

After stumbling early in the regular season and falling to Woodland Hills and McKeesport, the team righted the ship and did something unexpected: It won the Big East Youth Football League championship.

Penn-Trafford (10-3) defeated McKeesport, 34-6, in the finals Nov. 19 at Jeannette.

“We happened to get hot at the right time,” Penn-Trafford coach Sam DeNillo said. “They started believing in themselves and had something to prove.

“We lost to Woodland Hills, 38-0, and McKeesport beat us by three or four touchdowns the first time. The team really wanted Woodland Hills.”

Penn-Trafford opened the playoffs by defeating Kiski, 24-14, and then it knocked off No. 1 Woodland Hills, 22-6.

“We had to deal with some ups and downs during the season,” DeNillo said. “Longtime coach Joe Lauricia passed away, and a player’s dad died. But we were able to overcome those things and gelled at the right time.

“They were a resilient, hard-nosed and tough group. A lot stood up and gave it their all every game.”

Some of the players that led the team were running back Ben Grabowski, running back Landon Stikkle and quarterback Cody Yacamelli.

“It’s hard to pick out one or two. They all did their jobs,” DeNillo said. “It was a rewarding season, and the kids deserve the championship.”

The Penn-Trafford 7-8 team also reached the championship game, losing to Woodland Hills, 12-0.

The team finished the season 10-2. Its other loss was to Woodland Hills, 6-0, in triple overtime during the regular season.

“We had a good season and honestly we should have won it,” Penn-Trafford coach Eric Demari said. “Considering we didn’t have a season in 2020 because of covid, the team came a long way.

“None played tackle football before, and we were teaching them how to play. It was a good group and they meshed well.”

Some of the top players on the team included running back Sloan Simpson, quarterback Colton Mastro, lineman Deion Lewis, running back Jordy Gladkowski and defensive back Benny Padezan.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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