MONTVALE, N.J. – During their final season of Pop Warner football, a team of 14-year-olds that practices at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale will compete at the National Championships in Orlando.
“What is kind of special about them is that they are part of the first class to ever come through our organization. They made it in their last year before high school, which is really neat,” said Anthony Galella of Midland Park, president of the Bergen Stars, which includes players from New Jersey and New York.
Galella and head coach John DeNobile of Upper Saddle River formed the Bergen Stars in 2011. Both their sons, Dante and Dean, as well as Ryan Butler of Bergenfield, were among the first kids to start in the program. Now the trio “made it to Disney together in their final year,” he said.
The Pop Warner National Championships will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports from Saturday, Dec. through 9.
After practice Monday night, the team held a viewing party to learn who they would play first. The brackets were announced live on ESPN3.
“Our boys were thrilled to see the Bergen Stars name in the bracket on ESPN3 and to be representing New Jersey. They've worked tirelessly toward that goal with a relentless passion,” Galella said. “Head Coach John DeNobile and his staff have done an amazing job this season.”
The Bergen Stars will take on the Portsmouth Patriots of Rhode Island in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Dec. 2. If they win, they will go on to the semifinals on Tuesday. The championship game will be played on Friday.
But Galella said the team will take the tournament one game at a time. “Our only focus is going 1-0 vs. Portsmouth,” he said.
The team includes: Dean DeNobile of Upper Saddle River, Nico Kross of Fairfield, Cameron Lenhardt of Hackensack, Jayden Dorilas of Hillburn, NY, Ryan Butler of Bergenfield, Nicholas Muller of Upper Saddle River, Brendan Errity of Woodcliff Lake, John McDermott of Saddle Brook, Stephen Lardi of Verona, John Fiore of Fairfield, Karlson Bauer of Pompton Plains, John DeMallie of Ridgewood, Yann Silva of Cliffside Park, Thomas Dougherty of Glen Rock, Lazarus Hernandez of Haskell, Dante Galella of Midland Park, Andrew Pichardo of Dumont, Jonathan Parkes of Wayne, and Cyrenius Menard of Upper Saddle River.
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