Two big runs from Joseph Siofele and many big plays on defense carried the Evergreen Bulldogs to new territory for a Pop Warner football team from Southwest Washington.
A 14-0 win over the Southern Marin (Calif.) Bulldogs on Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif., qualified the east Vancouver team for the Pop Warner Super Bowl tournament. The Pop Warner Super Bowl tournament will be played Dec. 2-8 in Kissimmee, Fla.
The Evergreen Pop Warner team won the Northwest championship in the Pee Wee Division. The Pee Wee Division is for players ages 9-11, and “older-lighter” 12-year-olds who weigh between 75 and 100 pounds.
Siofele ran 90 yards on the Bulldogs’ second offensive play of the game to give Evergreen a quick 6-0 lead in Saturday’s regional championship game. He added a second touchdown on a 13-yard run in the third quarter, which was followed by a successful two-point kick by Matthew Gama. Siofele finished with 258 rushing yards on 23 carries.
The Evergreen defense had three takeaways, including a key fumble recovery to halt a first-quarter Broncos drive deep into Bulldogs territory. Outside linebacker Benjamin Bisquera forced that fumble and made the recovery. In the second quarter, safety Carter Sutton intercepted a pass. In the fourth quarter, Andrew Gulliford forced a fumble that was recovered by Gama to end another Broncos drive.
Bulldogs head coach Brandon Victor said the play of right cornerback True Lover (four tackles, one sack) was integral to the success of the defense by making some key stops on corner blitzes and by not getting fooled on his pass coverage assignments.
Most of the players on this Evergreen team were on the Bulldogs’ team that lost their 2011 regional championship game in California. Victor said that experience helped prepare his players for the speed for Bay Area opponents.
“The experience we gained last season is you can’t take off on any one play,” Victor said of the caliber of competition against teams from California.
The Bulldogs players attend Shahala, Pacific, Covington, Wy’East middle schools, and St. Joseph’s Catholic School.
The Bulldogs will take a 11-0 record to the Pop Warner Super Bowl.
They will be one of eight regional champions competing for a national title in for the Division II Pee Wee bracket. They will play at least two games in Florida, and if they win three in a row will be national champions.
Cameron Cook, one of the five assistant coaches, said he was not surprised the Bulldogs won — even though the Bay Area teams have dominated the regional playoffs over the years.
“Many people didn’t believe we could do it,” Cook said. “But I just had this feeling that this team could not only win, but win convincingly.”
Here is the roster of the Bulldogs: Trey Galloway, Kahai Umiamaka, John Earnhardt, Lincoln Victor, Michael Bolds, Riley Buehler, Carter Sutton, Tiernan Stanley, Philip Earnhardt, True Lover, Joseph Dearey, Benjamin (BJ) Bisquera, Jordan Cook, Pierce Henriksbo, Travis Flick, Joseph (JoJo) Siofele, Alex Vallejo, Makai Anderson, Matthew Gama, Luke Staton, Andrew Gulliford, Kobe Anderson, Darien Chase, Miguel Cruz, Kanen Eaton, Alexander Gonzales. In addition to Cameron Cook, the assistant coaches are Charbonneau Gourde, Mike Miller, James Gama, Kapono Victor and Buzz Duell.