SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood PAL celebrated the accomplishments of the 2019 season, including increased enrollment and trips by two teams to the Suburban Youth Super Bowl for their respective age groups. The dinner was held at Shackamaxon Country Club.

"This was our most successful year ever with the 5th and 6th grade teams making Super Bowl, and 5th bringing home the hardware," said Shawn Johnson, president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood PAL.

The Super Bowl trophy, won by the 5th grade Raiders, was on display, as well as an autographed helmet signed by the championship-winning team.

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"The last four games combined I don't think we have up 100 yards. We played unbelievable defense," said 5th grade coach Mike Marranca. "I could not be more proud of this team."

"Our coaches teach our kids to play safer. They talk with the skeptical moms. We had boys who never played tackle football before sign up this year," said Coach Kenny Lickman, who led the 6th grade team. "We almost made it to the summit. I'm very proud to be a coach in this league."

"We want the 7th and 8th graders -- some of whom will play for the high school next year -- to lead by example. They're the big brothers of the program," Shawn Johnson said. "Some of them will be playing for the HS. We want to thank the cheerleaders; they contribute a lot to the program and keep our players up."

Russ Yeager, Commissioner of the New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League, told the crowd that 21 former SPF PAL players are police officers, and 46 went on to become servicemen, including Chris Aversa's son, Tyler. Many former players give back, including the four high school varsity captains who came to the playoff games.

"You are the future of our high school -- players and cheerleaders," Yeager told the crowd. "I see the future: future moms, dads, lawyers, cops -- responsible adults."

The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Police Athletic League (PAL) was founded in 1991 as a volunteer organization. It aims to develop a friendly relationship between youngster and police officers and a spirit of respect for the law. The PAL emphasizes skill development, personal growth, and fun for pre-high school boys and girls from both Scotch Plains and Fanwood. It runs youth football, flag football, girls softball, volleyball and cheerleading programs, and its volunteer coaches and administrators are police officers and other dedicated individuals who care about kids. 

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