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North Pee-Wees capture conference crown
November 8, 2017

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For some, it was a perfect redemption. For others, it was taking care of business as they always have. And for others still, it was their first foray into the world of football.

There was a good mix of kids on all sides for this year's North Fort Myers Pee-Wee Pop Warner football team, and on Saturday in the Division 2 championship game at North Fort Myers Community Park, everything and everyone came together.

Willie Mays scored three long touchdowns on his 13th birthday, and Keshon Ivy-Ryerson scored twice as the Red Knights took home the Peace River Conference Championship with a 31-7 victory over Cape Youth.

While the game was a relatively easy one as the Knights played nearly spotless football, the season certainly wasn't. An opening game loss, a hurricane that wiped out two weeks of their season and a Kansas tiebreaker to just get into the playoffs set the stage for what was about to happen.

Coach Todd Sheridan said after Hurricane Irma, every game took on even more importance, and the kids responded.

"It was focus and determination. We thought we had a good team. That first game was more about the coaching. We had kids in the wrong spots and we corrected that," Sheridan said. "The hurricane gave us a chance to work on things, and that's on the kids. They responded."

Mays in particular. Midway through the first quarter, on North's first possession, he went right up the middle for a 50-yard touchdown run to get the party started.

Ivy-Ryerson made it 12-0 on nearly the same play early in the second quarter, this for 37 yards, and Mays added his second touchdown, from 33 yards to make it 18-0 just before halftime.

Cape Youth could not contain the speed of the running game, especially when they broke through the first level of defense. Ryerson scored again midway through the third quarter on a 70-yard TD run to make it 25-0, while Mays added the icing on the cake with a 58-yard jaunt at the end of the third quarter to make it 31-0 and force a running clock for the remainder of the game.

It was time to celebrate, and not even a Cape Youth touchdown in the final minutes could damper North's spirits.

For those who hadn't experienced winning before, it was particularly gratifying.

"For those who haven't won in two years, you sometimes have to retrain them how to win. They weren't used to it, and once we got them to know the North Fort Myers way, we accomplished that," Sheridan said.

Mays said he had a good birthday.

"I just hit the holes and followed my blockers and used my vision and speed to get past everyone," Mays said. "It's exciting to play next week and we're going to do the best we can."

North will not have to leave home next week, as it will host the first round of regionals on Saturday against an opponent yet to be determined as of Sunday.

In other post-season action, North's Mitey-Mites played for a championship on Saturday as well, but were defeated 6-0 by the Fellowship Lions.

Last week, the Junior Pee-Wees, which had not won a game in two seasons previous, improved to make the playoffs, but in Fort Myers, fell to the Fellowship Lions 25-7, which blew a close game open in the fourth quarter.

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