The Pop Warner football season is at the halfway point, meaning it's crunch time for teams jockeying for postseason berths.
For the North Manatee Storm's Junior Midget team, that means staying on a winning path.
The club's latest win came Saturday when the Storm defeated the Fishhawk Wolfpack 24-6 at Buffalo Creek Park.
That runs their record to 5-0, and puts them atop the Division II South standings.
They've done it with a balanced offense and a stout defense. The Storm's latest victim, the Wolfpack, saw John Jones tally a rushing touchdown and Korey Waters snag two receiving touchdowns from Danion Harker.
Meanwhile, the defense shut down Fishhawk with Gage Clarke, Ryan Overstreet, Jett Gillum, Waters, Brandon Waiters, Mateus Urbanski and Jones leading the charge.
The offensive output was set up by the blocking of Urbanski, Waiters, Jackson Dietz, Jesse Dugan and Jackson Sauerbeck.
Vaughn Hayes converted all three extra-point attempts, while Jones blocked an extra-point try early in the fourth quarter after the Wolfpack scored their lone touchdown of the game.
The Storm's Tiny Mite club also stayed undefeated after a 21-14 victory over the Wolfpack. Demarius Smith preserved the win by making a tackle on the 1-yard line on the last play of the game. Other leaders on the defense were Kale Bunce, Colton Davis, Jair Henderson, Mark Kennon, Anthony Mack, Troy Perales, Landon Pizano, Carmelo Shelly and Jake Wyatt.
Jakobe Murrell (two touchdowns) and Smith accounted for the Storm's scores.
The Storm's Pee Wee squad earned a 34-0 victory over the Fishhawk Wolfpack.
Meanwhile, the Manatee Mustangs defeated a few different organizations across all divisions.
The Mustangs best
ed the New Tampa Tigers in the Mighty Mites (12-8), Pee Wees (15-0), Junior Midgets (12-8) and Midget divisions (36-0), while downing the Storm 41-0 in the Junior Pee Wees.
The Manatee Wildcats ran roughshod over the Wauchula Hardee Wildcats in four divisions. Manatee won in the Mighty Mites (37-12), Junior Pee Wees (33-0), Junior Midgets (48-0), Midgets (41-7), while dropping a 32-0 decision in the Pee Wees to Hardee.
BEACH DAWGS 3rd in classic
The Bradenton BEACH DAWGS sent two teams to the Nations Baseball Fall Classic this past weekend at Braden River. The 14-and-younger Red squad and the 13-and-younger White team competed in the U14 bracket. The Red team finished third, losing 8-2 in the semifinals, and received strong performances from Ty Hooks (4-for-10, two RBIs, run, two walks; 3 1/3 innings pitched, three hits, one run), Chase Jackson (2-for-9, three RBIs, two walks), Carson Wehmeyer (3-for-6, two RBIs, run, two walks, two stolen bases), Paul Labriola (2-for-7, double, three runs, RBI, three walks; 4 IP, three hits, one run), Bryce Longenberger (three stolen bases) and Kieren Collins (4 IP, four hits, two strikeouts, two runs).
The 13-and-younger club's leading hitters for the weekend were Elijah Jeffs (3-for-7, RBI), Austin Brinling (5-for-6, five runs, RBI, double, triple, four stolen bases), Jacob Eyre (2-for-6, double, two RBIs, walk), Bobby Duffy (2-for-5, three RBIs, run, two walks, stolen base), Ben Tobio (4-for-7, four runs, two RBIs, four stolen bases, double), Dylan Donahue (2-for-5, run, RBI, double, two walks) and Jason Hauck (2-for-6, three RBIs, two walks, run, stolen base).
Duffy tossed two innings with three strikeouts and allowed no runs in picking up a save, while Donahue threw four innings, allowing two runs while recording two strikeouts to grab a victory.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill.