Building from the ground up, a young group of Mohawk football players are giving the community something to look forward to on the gridiron long-term — and short-term, as well.
Mohawk’s 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds won their pee-wee division in Tri-Valley Pop Warner this fall and have advanced to the semifinals of the state playoffs. They travel to Syracuse Sunday to meet the Eastwood Bears, a team representing the area that makes up the East Syracuse-Minoa school district.
“It’s a true team, a close-knit group,” veteran coach Mike Santillo said. “There’s no individuals; it’s all about the team. They play tough, hard-nosed football.
“It’s just an incredible group of kids.”
Santillo, who coached his older son, also named Mike, now a senior at Mohawk High School, through the steps of Pop Warner in his younger days, has a younger son on this team, 10-year-old Nick.
Mohawk went undefeated in its league, losing only a crossover game in Utica during the regular season. The team defeated Lowville last week in Watertown to get to the semifinals.
Meanwhile, the team’s support has been growing.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible support of the mayor (Jim Baron) as well as the entire village of Mohawk,” Santillo said.
The village made Weller Park available to the team for practice this season and has provided police and fire escorts in and out of town for its playoff games.
“Our team always has more fans in the stands than any we face,” Santillo added.
Compiled From Times Staff Reports