Orlando, Fla. would be a well-deserving reward for the Carson Senator Junior Pee Wee Blue football team.
Carson overcame the elements and the Redwood City 49ers from the Bay Area to go where no Carson City Pop Warner football team has ever gone before. Carson beat the 49ers 13-12 on Saturday at Sparks High to win the Pacific Northwest championship.
The Senators qualified for the national semifinals to be held in Orlando. They did it by battling freezing temperatures in a game that began at about 8 a.m. while dealing with six to eight inches of snow.
"This is the farthest a Carson City Pop Warner team has ever gone," Senator head coach Ron Pacheco said. "It's new territory for us. It's exciting."
Now the Senators are faced with a tight deadline to raise the funds for the trip to Orlando. As of Saturday, the team had received $17,000 in commitments and needs to raise a total of $54,000.
The team needs to pay for its airfare by Tuesday and pay for all the trip's expenses by Friday. Donations are being accepted at the Wells Fargo Bank Stewart Street branch under the Pop Warner Regional Sponsor account.
The team will come by to pick up donations from businesses that have made commitments. For more information, call Pacheco, 882-5974.
Carson scored first on Dylan Sawyers' 57-yard touchdown run before the 49ers came back to force a 6-6 halftime tie. The Senators took a 12-6 when tight end Austin Pacheco ran 60 yards for a score on a reverse.
"It made it tough to run our offense," coach Pacheco said. "It took away half our offense. We were fortunate to get to the outside."
Sawyers scored on the extra point that turned out to be the difference to give Carson a 13-12 lead. The 49ers scored with about three minutes left in the game, but Carson stopped the extra point to preserve the lead.
After the Senators recoved the onside kick, they faced a third and six, but Sawyers broke off a 40-yard run to put the game away.
"It was just a dramatic game," coach Pacheco said. "This is a game that we will never forget. Now what we've got to do is raise the money."
Coach Pacheco praised the job of center Keegan Aiazzi, who had to deal with a wet ball and the conditions without gloves. "He just did a fabulous job," Pacheco said.
"They played their hearts out," Pacheco also said about his team. "Our fans were the most vocal they've ever been. It was just a total team effort. Fans, players, parents, coaches."
Pacheco noted that teams need to maintain at least a C average to be eligible for the national tournament and that his club has a 3.2 grade point average. While teams are back in Orlando, they will have one hour of classwork each day.
Carson is part of the elite eight by advancing to Orlando. The Senators are scheduled to leave for Orlando on Dec. 5. A Western national champion and Eastern national champioin will be decided.
The Senators will play in the semifinals on Dec. 7 and and if they win, will play in the national title game on Dec. 10. If they lose, they'll play in the third place game on Dec. 10.
Team members for Carson are: Patrick Craugh, Daniel Okimura, Chance Quilling, Sawyers, Joseph Zinda, Colin McCulloch, Brandon Akers, Gabriel Pongasi, Andrew Toland, Aiazzi, John Borges, Alex Crathers.
Conner Fallon, Issac Hernandez, Jacob Myers, Pacheco, Clinton Page, Logan Peternell Cody Reno, Sam Blei, Austin Brown, Levi Carter, Cole Dufresne, Alex Eddy.
Tony Fondi, Patrick Hesse, Kurtis Scull, Zach White, Rodney Calhoun, Cody Hammond and Willy McDonald, Keith Collier and Nick Garcia.
Assistant coaches are Mike Pacheco, Al Teixeira, Shane Quilling, Leonard Lee, Eddie Brown, Steve Sawyers.