Pop Warner: Fairfield Giants bring home National title

The Giants are 10U Unlimited Weight Division National champions.

The Fairfield Giants left Connecticut on Friday morning as state and regional champs.

The locals came home late Saturday afternoon as National Champions of Pop Warner’s 10U Unlimited Weight Division, after defeating a previously unbeaten Titan team out of Kansas City (Mo.), 21-13.

The victory finished a perfect 12-0 season that began Aug. 1 at Sullivan Field.

“This is quite an accomplishment for a special group of young men.” coach Mark Cirilli said. “It goes to show you what commitment, hard work and discipline can accomplish when you are bound together with one mind, one heart and as one team.

The Giants opened up the scoring on their first drive with a 35-yard run by running back Luke Shannehan.

“I just followed my blocks and saw a huge hole open…The big boys upfront (Billy Mitchell, Braeden Aronson, Mason Frey, Charley Mahoney, Brooks Reynolds, Luca Fried and Andrew Taylor) have been dominating the trenches all season long,” said Shannehan to ESPN reporters after the game.

Fairfield scored again in the beginning of the second quarter.

QB Justin Toothaker hit Luke Stasko on the run with a perfect pass to bring the ball down to the one-yard line, where T.J. Cirilli punched it in to put the Giants up 14-0.

“The gold unit’s pass blocking has been great all season,” said offensive line coach Mike Mitchell. “Tanner Sticco, Dylan Katz, Cole Westerlund, Angelo Boci, Ryan Tompkins, Bradley Michaud, R.J. Patrignelli, Will Donahue, Colm Watcke and Ben Zuckerman have done a unbelievable job this year.”

The Kansas City Titans didn’t go without a fight, as they broke back into the game with two long touchdown runs off of misdirection plays late in the second quarter that brought the score to 14-13 at halftime.

“Our kids have faced a number of tests this year, overtime wins, come from behind victories with two minutes to go, even playing in a nor’easter and they have passed every one of them,” said coach Rob Manning. “They are a tough, strong-willed, driven group that doesn’t give up.”

The Giants came out strong with a 70-yard, 16-play opening drive to start the second half.

QB Matt McManus connected with T.J. Cirilli and Finbar Malloy on two key third-down pass plays to keep the drive alive.

Pop Warner Heisman hopeful Malloy, who led the Giants in touchdowns and rushing yards this year, scored from six yards out behind a tremendous block by Braeden Aronson to put the Giants up 21-13.

The Giants, led by great defensive line play by Angelo Boci, Ryan Tompkins, Billy Mitchell, R.J. Patrignelli, Luca Fried, Luke Sardinha, Brooks Reynolds and co-captain, Mason Frey, didn’t let up a first down in the second half.

Linebackers Becket Hallma, Finbar Malloy, Cole Westerlund, T.J. Cirilli and co-captain Charlie Mahoney proved to be too much for the Titan running game.

When the Titans took to the air, shutdown corners Robbie Manning, Matt Kleinman, Luke Shannehan and safeties Andrew Taylor and Justin Toothaker made them pay with two big interceptions.

On the year, the Giants recorded six shutouts and averaged 21 points a game with 11 players scoring touchdowns or extra points.

“Each and every player and coach on this team contributed in meaningful ways to the tremendous success of this season,” said team mom Lisa Cirilli

“We are all very proud of our guys. But it couldn’t have happened without the leadership of Fairfield Pop Warner and the hard work of Mollie Melbourne and all of the other family volunteers each week.

“We want to personally thank everyone for the tremendous support we received throughout the season.”

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