Youth football champions honored

The Stanley (N.C.) Blue Devils won the Pop Warner Super Bowl for their division at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Dec. 11. The Panthers celebrated their accomplishments on Wednesday by holding an NFL-style press conference in the press room at Bank of America Stadium that was attended by local print and television media.

The Blue Devils finished the season with a 13-0 record. They defeated the Wall (N.J.) Knights, 13-6, to win the Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee Division II Super Bowl. They beat the West Bay Rams from San Bruno, Calif. in the quarterfinals and shut out the Michigan City (Ind.) Wolves in the semifinals to advance to the finals.

"What they accomplished is very extraordinary, winning a national championship but also coming from a community of only 3,500 people. That makes it to me even more extraordinary," said Stanley Blue Devils head coach John Rudisill. "To come out on top is something we believed we could do. These kids gathered that belief about four or five games into the season. It was a tremendous process. I'm just really proud of them and proud of the community."

Stanley played in the competitive Greater Gaston Pop Warner Conference. After regular-season victories against the tough McAdenville Dolphins and Union Road Jaguars, the 2006 Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee champions, the team knew they had something special.

Blue Devils player Tyler Hannifan said, "Every practice we got better, and we started believing that we could win. After we beat Union Road, everyone knew that we were going to Florida and we could win and we did." Jonathan Eggers, Brandon Holden and Easton Moore also represented the Blue Devils at the press conference.

Panthers running back Tyrell Sutton attended the press conference and spent time talking to the players and posing for pictures. Additionally, the Blue Devils received a behind-the-scenes tour of Bank of America Stadium.

"The Carolina Panthers would like to congratulate the Stanley Blue Devils for their outstanding achievements this season," said Riley Fields, the Carolina Panthers director of community relations. "The end result is made possible through the team work, dedication and efforts of the players, coaches and team volunteers."

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