It will compete at the national tournament from Jan. 19-20
For most people, a winter vacation to Florida is usually only a dream.
Mike Marantis and his youth flag football team are making trips to the Sunshine State a yearly occurrence.
Last January, Marantis’ United States Flag and Touch Football League regional championship squad went to Kissimmee, Fla., for the 42nd annual national championship.
To kick off 2013, they’re doing it again.
They will be playing at the Austin Tindall Sports Complex for a USFTL National title. The tournament is Jan. 19-20 and it’s televised on ESPN.
“Last year, the team was very young and moved up to the 9-11 division for flag football,” Marantis said. “Playing with 9-year old kids and winning the USFTL regionals last year was huge. However, wanting a repeat of course really added stress to this team for this year.”
Christian Marantis, P.J. Hall, Carmen LeFoer, Zack Larrier, Andre Crump and Mike Liberato returned. M.J. Farber was the team’s newcomer.
On offense, the team out-scored opponents, 145-12, in the regional conference tournament.
“I believe the difference this year was not only their confidence,” Marantis said, “but the players wanting this for each other.”
Marantis, who is assisted by Michael Liberato and Dominic LeFoer, said his defense swarms like “killer bees.”
“Giving up only two touchdowns in a tournament is almost impossible, but they did it,” he said. “They shut down every team and made it a lot easier for our offense to capitalize.
“Now these kids get a chance to show the country how good they are.”
Founded in 1988, the USFTL is a youth league based out of Mentor. Kids ages 5 to 17 can participate. As part of the league registration fee, participants are given authentic NFL reversible jerseys.
The national tournament in Florida features five-on-five play with All-American and MVP awards to the top players.
“We are very blessed to have this opportunity again,” Marantis said. “I believe we have a good shot at this. We have the talent, and the support to do this. It is now up to the boys to bring a title home for Y-Town.”