The Manatee Mustangs’ quest to stake a claim as one of the best Pop Warner Little Scholars football programs in Florida this year will continue at home Saturday. The Mustangs’ junior pee wee and junior varsity games will be at Lakewood Ranch Park at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, in the second round of the Southeast region Division II playoffs after winning the FYD/Tampa Bay Pop Warner league two weeks ago.
Manatee’s junior pee wee team kicks the day off in Manatee County, hosting the Palm Beach Gardens Gators on the Mustangs’ home field. The Manatee junior varsity team plays in the third game of the day against the Riviera Beach Chargers. The Gators and Chargers were both Treasure Coast Pop Warner champions in their respective divisions.
Between the Mustangs’ two games, the South Pasco Predators will face the Port St. Lucie Pirates in pee wee action at noon. The day at Lakewood Ranch concludes with the Port Charlotte Bandits facing the Silver Raiders of St. Petersburg at 4 p.m.
Wins for Manatee would advance the Mustangs to the South championship Nov. 19 on the Gold Coast. Manatee’s junior pee wee team would face the winner of Saturday’s game between the Northwest Falcons of Miami and Merritt Island Mustangs in Palm Bay. The junior varsity team would meet either the Fort Myers Lions or the West Volusia Wolves.
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The Tampa Bay Pop Warner cheer champions were also crowned with a competition Oct. 30 in Tampa, and the Palmetto Trojans and East Manatee Bulldogs each won multiple championships. The Trojans swept the dance pom events, winning both the junior varsity and varsity divisions at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The Bulldogs won both the pee wee level 2 medium and varsity level 3 small divisions.
The Mustangs and Manatee Wildcats each added championships and another top-three finish. The Mustangs won the junior varsity level 2 large division and finished third in pee wee level 1 medium. The Mustangs won varsity level 2 medium and finished third in pee wee level 1 medium. The North Manatee Storm also finished second in junior varsity level 1 small.
Winners in each division advance to the Pop Warner Southeast region championship Nov. 26 in Kissimmee.
Rebels Baseball, which draws players from both Bradenton and Sarasota, was the only Manatee County team to win its division at the Out Hit Hunger tournament held at various venues around the county, beating the West Boca Panthers 13U of Boca Raton, 16-5, at Braden River Little League to win the 13 AA division.
The Out Hit Hunger tournament, which is in its second year with Suncoast Travel Ball, doubles as a food drive, with each player being required to bring at least one canned good. Suncoast Travel Ball is in its first year as a United States Specialty Sports Association-affiliated league.
The Rebels’ team in the sophomore open division was one of only four other area teams to even reach the final. Rebels fell to Orlando Scorpions West, 10-2, at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota; Florida Burn 13U fell to Sarasota Vipers 13U Gold, 13-4, in the 13 open final at Braden River; Team Manatee fell to Tampa’s Chain Baseball, 8-0, in the 12 open championship in Palmetto; and Mustangs Elite lost to Tampa’s CP Select, 6-2, in the 12 AA final at Buffalo Creek Park.