Johnston 12U Panthers win seventh straight game

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If kids like Nick Keller, Eli Williams, Rafael Ayriyan, Armand DeCosta and Camani Batista don’t get you, it’s a sure bet you won’t escape the grasp of Alex Morin, Roberto Martinez, Vinny Campanella, Adrian Orellana, Gian Tortolani and Anthony Abbruzzi.

Those are just part of a group known as Salzillo’s Dynamic Defense, a.k.a. the Johnston Youth Football Panthers U-12 team that Sunday beat back the rain and Upper Cape Spartans, 42-0, at rain-soaked KC Coombs Field in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

“Our defense really shined,” said Gary Salzillo, the Johnston coach who doubles as the program’s president. “The defense was really, really up to the challenge.”

The Panthers’ defense – which also included key performances by Michael Laflamme, Brandon Parsons, Nick Baccala, Hudson Carvalho, Jesse Pascettta, NeAri Vasquez, TJ Leomensah, JJ Pincince, Dylan Martins, Kyle D’Alessandro, Aiden Larivieri and Dante Iafrate – held the Spartans to less than 10 yards in total offense.

Thus, Johnston racked up 197 yards in total offense and ran its record to a sparkling 7-0 in the Blackstone Valley Division of the American Youth Football League that features teams in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Salzillo’s squad started the day on a strong note. After stopping the Spartans on their first possession, the Panthers got on the board quickly after Parsons rumbled 30 yards to one of two scores he made Sunday. Baccala scored the point after for a 7-0 lead.

Johnston’s defense wasted no time in getting the ball back and this time, Iafrate led the Panthers on a two-play, 27-yard score when Baccala scored and Parsons rushed for the conversion and a 14-0 Johnston lead.

Bolstered by the stingy defense, Johnston got the ball back again and this time it was Parsons bolting to another impressive 30-yard score, after which Dillon So scored the point after.

On the ensuing Spartan drive, Laflamme intercepted a pass and scored from 17 yards out. Hudson Carvalho rushed the conversion for a 28-0 Johnston lead.

However, Johnston wasn’t finished with its scoring spree. On the kickoff, Baccala, who is also a talented youth wrestler, forced a fumble that Aiden Lariviere recovered on the Spartans’ 29. Then, Iafrate took off on a quarterback keeper and scored with Baccala scoring the point after for a 35-0 lead.

The Panthers’ final tally came when JJ Pincince raced down the sideline 30 yards for his first-ever youth football touchdown. Vasquez rushed for the conversion.

Salzillo’s squad will go for its eighth straight win this Sunday – Oct. 15 – when the Panthers host Norton, Massachusetts in a 3 p.m. 12U contest at Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Stadium. The complete Johnston Youth Football schedule for Sunday is: 8:30 a.m. - Flag game; 10:30 - 8U vs. Norton; 12 noon - 9U vs. Lincoln; 1:30 p.m. 10U vs. Norton; 4:30 13U vs. North Smithfield.

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