(Brevard County, FL)- The Merritt Island Mustang Pee Wee division finished the 2012 East Coast Conference Season undefeated (11-0) by beating the Port Orange Hawks 24-14 in the championship game played at New Smyrna Sports Complex on Saturday November 3rd. The Mustangs advanced to the title game by beating the Deltona Panthers 28-0 earlier in the week at a very special game played on Tuesday Night under the lights at Merritt Island High School. The Hawks beat out the defending champion Flagler Falcons in order to advance to the championship game.
The Championship game was the second meeting between the Mustangs and the Hawks this season. Merritt Island took the 38 – 24 victory from the Hawks in week 7.
The game pitted teams with two different offensive styles. The Mustangs are a hardnosed, run oriented team that prefers the “3 yards and a cloud of dust” approach to football. The Hawks are a very well prepared passing team that features spread formations and big plays.
The championship game opened with the Hawks receiving the ball first. The Hawks came out passing. On the third play from scrimmage, Deben Peterson intercepted a deep pass and returned it 55 yards for the game’s first score. Jake Barrett then kicked it through the uprights to give the Mustangs an 8-0 lead. The Hawks then went on a nice drive that allowed them to drive to the Mustangs’ 30 before turning the ball over on downs. Merritt Island’s ground game then took control. The Mustangs went on a 12 play, 70 yard drive, featuring an impressive no-huddle offense that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown sweep by Cameron Latham. Once again, Jake Barrett’s kick was good and the Mustang’s lead stood at 16-0.
The Hawks proceeded to take to the air to try and cut into the Mustangs’ lead. The stingy Mustangas’ defense led by J.D. Johnson, Alex Nigh, Andrew Beardall and Nick Avdellas again clamped down and Deben Peterson quickly returned the ball to the Mustangs by picking off his second pass of the game. Merritt Island’s offense took over possession and slowly drove back down the field. By mixing up their misdirection running plays along with the Mustangs’ feared “Wedge” up the middle, the stout offensive line, consisting of Jayce Silvea, Chase Rigdon, Jake DelBene, Ben Clark, Ceasar Snetsinger and Sebastian Mott began to chew up the remaining minutes of the first half. The half ended with Cameron Latham scoring his second touchdown of the day on a 3-yard power play off the right tackle.
The second half saw both offenses move the ball effectively. The Mustangs received the second half kickoff and drove all the way to the Hawks’ 1-yard line. With a chance to put the game out of reach, the Mustangs fumbled going into the end zone and turning the ball back over to Port Orange. The Hawks went back to their air attack and advanced to the 50-yard line before the Mustangs’ Joe Johnson made an amazing over the shoulder interception that ended the impressive Hawks’ drive. After forcing the Mustangs to punt, the Hawks got back into the game by completing a series of passes and finally hitting paydirt for their first score to make it 24-6. After another untimely Mustang fumble, the Hawks were able to score their second touchdown in the final minutes game as the 4th quarter came to a close with the game ending final score of 24-14.
By winning the East Coast Conference, the Mustangs now move on to the South East Regional Playoffs and will face the Tampa area’s champion North Manatee Storm, November 10th at Heritage High School in Palm Bay. The North Manatee Storm advanced to this game by beating the Mid-Florida Conference champion St. Cloud Bulldogs. The Merritt Island Pee Wees had already beaten the St. Cloud Bulldogs in a non-conference game earlier in the season 22-0. The South East Regional Playoffs culminate in a championship game in Kissimmee with the winners earning the privilege of playing in the 2012 Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships that will take place from Saturday, December 1st through Saturday, December 8th at ESPN Wide World of Sports™ Complex.
In 2010, Merritt Island’s Jr. Midget team won an amazing 16 straight games before losing in the National Championship Game at Disney that was broadcasted on ESPN 3. The Merritt Island Mustangs are looking forward to another shot at the National Championship Tournament come December.