MIDLAND PARK, N.J. — The undefeated Bergen County Pop Warner Football Unlimited Division is bound for the national championship tournament in Orlando, Fla., led in part by organization president Anthony Galella of Midland Park.
Preliminary games will be on Sun., Dec. 6, and Wed., Dec 9.
If the team wins both, it goes to the Dec. 12 championship game.
A 20-12 victory against the East Ward Stallion's from Newark on Saturday gave Bergen Unlimited the regional title.
"It’s very difficult to actually qualify and play for that championship," said Galella, who established a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of airfare, hotels and meals for the team's Florida trip.
As of Tuesday, he'd raised $650 of his $40,000 goal.
Many of the 20 players headed to the games are Bergen or Rockland residents who were also on the Junior Midget Team that lost in the second round of the National Championship Games in 2013.
They include Jed Denobile, Frank Mazzola and Tyler Caricato -- all of Upper Saddle River.
"What’s remarkable is that not only did they qualify the first time but they're getting a chance to go down a second time," Galella said. "It's a tribute to those boys sticking with it."
The greatest challenge for Head Coach Rob Cuttito of Paramus was assembling all of the athletes for practices in Montvale and Paramus.
"We came together really well," Cuttito said. "The kids developed a really good bond."
"Seeing the boys play for each other, make a commitment to care for each other — not just themselves — and reap benefits of all their sacrifices makes me proud," Galella said.
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