There’s an old adage in sports that states: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” That’s rather appropriate for the Johnston Panthers U-12 football
In the previous two seasons, the Panthers only won one game in the American Youth Football leagues Blackstone Valley Division but Sunday were inside sun-covered artificially-turfed Cranston Stadium about to do battle for a berth in the youth gridiron group’s U-12 Division Super Bowl.
Johnston was armed with an impressive 5-3 record as compared to CLCF (Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future) Chiefs that sported an undefeated mark of 8-0.
“Yes, we’ve got some heavy odds,” a Panthers coach concurred while watching his team during pregame drills. “But our kids are excited and will give it everything they have.”
The proud Panthers did, in fact, turn in an exhausting effort only to have the seemingly bigger and more experienced Chiefs post a 26-0 victory that ended Johnston’s chances for that Super Bowl berth.
However, as that old adage above goes, Johnston played the game with pride and gave it everything they had and more importantly men like Matt Clements – who this year succeeded Gary Salzillo as the Johnston Youth Football & Cheers program president - will attest had the opportunity to play football in a well-organized program that teaches more than how to win.
The Johnston Panthers, in fact, may have one of the best uniformed youth football and cheerleading programs in the entire AYF Blackstone Valley Division as well as having top-flight helmets and equipment.
Moreover, as Clements and other JYF officials will attest: “Our kids had the opportunities that some youngsters will never – ever – have. This program teaches teamwork, sportsmanship and provides a valuable lesson in life for each and every youth football player and cheerleader.”
So, the U-12 Panthers season ended on a so-called sour note but Sunday’s game will long be forgotten in the coming weeks when the Johnston Youth Football & Cheers young boys and girls will be honored at the annual year-end awards dinner that’s always filled with fun, food and prizes.