The team won against previous Superbowl champions Orcutt Panthers
PASO ROBLES — On Nov. 19, 2022, the Paso Robles Bantam Division Youth Football Team took home the championship in the Central Coast Youth Football League (CCYFL) Superbowl with a 12-7 win over the Orcutt Panthers at Lompoc High School.
Head coach Mitchell Monteiro was impressed by the young players’ tenacity throughout the season, “The boys worked hard throughout the season.”
The Bantam Division of CCYFL is the youngest division of the league. It is where young athletes get an introduction to the fundamentals of football, and it is often their first experience with organized sports teams. The team consists of athletes starting at age 7 to 9, depending on their weight.
During the 2022 season, the Bearcat Bantams went into the playoffs with an 11-2 record. Monteiro remarked on his players’ abilities to overcome obstacles throughout the season, from weather to sickness.
In the Superbowl, the Bearcats defeated the Panthers, who won the Superbowl last year. The Bearcats actually lost to the Panthers in their last regular season game 14-7.
“We were the underdog, so to speak, so it was good to come out on top in the end,” said Monteiro of his team’s eventual victory over the Panthers.
Bearcat quarterback Aiden Wahlberg turned out to be the team’s most important player of the Superbowl game.
“He had a great game,” Monteiro said. “He scored the winning touchdown and then on defense he made a lot of big tackles to either get us the ball back or stop their offense.”
In the end, the beginning athletes played the game as a team and took home a victory against the previously undefeated Panthers.
“I always preach to them hard work is the key to success,” said Monteiro of his Bantam players’ final game. “I honestly think they believed in that, and they went out there and accomplished what they did because of the hard work they put in.”
Along with hard work, Monteiro tries to instill a sense of confidence in his players. Youth football is where a lot of players begin to learn the game, and many have never played before.
But, the coach expressed that as the year went on, his players became more confident in the game.
“I think the biggest thing is being confident and trusting themselves and trusting their teammates,” he said. “It all clicked at the right time.”
Monteiro, who looks forward to watching the kids grow and develop as players in the future, adds the Bearcat Bantams are a “good group of kids. You can tell they are close [to each other] — on the field and off the field. It was a collective effort, all 22 kids, to go out there and win that game.”