The Wilmington Pop Warner U8 team

The Wilmington Pop Warner U8 team finished as the Super Bowl runner-up after playing Brockton this past Sunday. The team includes, bottom row from left,  Jackson Walton, George Edwards, Tyler Noble, Gino Borges, Jacob Beaudoin, Aiden Layton, Spencer McSweeney, Kian Smith and Cole Gifford; Second row from left, Biovany Noel, Duran McDonald, Cameron Joseph, Finn Warford, Dylan Alvarado, Michael Annarelli, Kody Castellano, Liam Malloy, Matty Marino, Eoghan Barry and Brendan Gemell; and top row from left, coaches Dan Gemelli, Dan Barry, Angel Alvarado, Curtis Gifford, Derrick Beaudoin, Nick Castellano and Ryan Layton. (courtesy photo).

LYNN – On Sunday, The Wilmington U8 tackle football team traveled to Manning Field in Lynn to take on Brockton in the Division Two Eastern Mass. Super Bowl Game.

Ultimately, Wilmington fell by a score of 13-7 in an overtime thriller on the crisp and rainy Sunday morning.

Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Wildcats posted a 4-4 regular season record, winning their respective conference and earning them a bid into the playoffs where they topped Brookline last week.

Wilmington came out firing in the game’s first possession, having a long drive taking up over seven minutes of the first quarter. Quarterback Brendan Gemelli led the way out of the gate, picking up a total of 18 rushing yards in the first drive.

The Wildcat defense also came out hot, forcing two key penalties to pin Brockton on their three yard line. The hard work of the defensive lineman and defensive ends Kody Castellano, Eoghan Barry, Dylan Alvarado, Finn Warford, Matty Marino, Cameron Joseph, and Duran McDonald then forced a Brockton turnover, igniting a start to their solid defensive play throughout the morning.

Defense turned into offense for Wilmington when Brendan Gemelli ran four yards into the endzone for the Wildcats’ lone score with 1:42 remaining in the opening quarter of action. Tyler Noble then converted the extra point, putting Wilmington ahead 7-0.

Gemelli finished the day with an impressive 63 yards rushing, and Wilmington Head Coach Nick Castellano was proud of his efforts.

“He was fantastic. He’s been great all year (and) I’m very proud of him. He hung in there, it’s obviously a pressure cooker game (yet he did great), said Castellano.

The Wilmington offense also featured a solid day from Tyler Noble, adding 19 yards rushing to his extra point conversion.

The rest of the way, the Wilmington offense was only able to produce 59 yards of offense, finding trouble converting third downs against a talented Brockton defense.

With 5:42 remaining in the first half, Brockton got on the board to tie the game at seven.

However, the Wildcat defense kept giving themselves a chance, forcing four total turnovers. Less than a minute into the second half, Biovany Noel recovered a Brockton fumble, giving Wilmington another offensive opportunity from a turnover.

Many Wildcats assisted on tackles throughout the game, including Finn Warford, Jacob Beaudoin, Tyler Noble, Gino Borges, Cameron Joseph, Spencer McSweeney, Kody Castellano, and a huge tackle from Biovany Noel that forced a Brockton punt late in the third quarter.

Kody Castellano also had some very strong punts for Wilmington, forcing Brockton to start with some uncomfortable field positions.

Brockton was able to score on a fourth and four in overtime to give them the 13-7 lead, where Wilmington was unable to answer. Despite the loss, the Wildcats battled hard and Castellano is proud of his team’s efforts.

“I think they did the best they could given the situation. Every player played their butts off (and) played as good as they possibly could have played for this game, said Castellano following the loss.

It was a long path to Sunday’s Super Bowl game for the U8 Wildcats, as last season’s squad notched only one win in a season where they recorded two total touchdowns.

“This year (was a) big difference (and a) big turnaround. We had great players, great coaches (and) everybody worked hard,” said Castellano. “I can’t be happier with the players (and) the coaches. We scored well over 15 touchdowns this year, so big difference (from last season).”

With the resurgence of the U8 team this season, Castellano is excited about what the future holds for the entire Wilmington Pop Warner program.

“One thing that this season 100 percent will have done is I think it’s bringing a lot of excitement to Wilmington,” said Castellano. “Our numbers were up for Pop Warner this year (when) in the past couple years they have been down. So I think we had a lot of excitement here and a lot of people coming to cheer us on (and) kids that are saying they want to play next year so I think this was a great step in the right direction for the program.”

Members of the U8 Pop Warner squad on Sunday’s championship game included: Matty Marino, Aiden Layton, Brendan Gemelli, Gino Borges, Jacob Beaudoin, Cameron Joseph, Cole Gifford, Tyler Noble, Finn Warford, Michael Annarelli, Jackson Walton, George Edwards, Spencer McSweeney, Kody Castellano, Biovany Noel, Dylan Alvarado, Duran McDonald, Eoghan Barry, Kian Smith, and Liam Malloy.

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