Sports 08-10-2016

Pop Warner teams start 2016 practice

By Cary Shuman

They have the best stadium in the league, the best cheerleading teams in the nation, and football teams that are ready to contend for playoff spots and beyond.

The Revere Pop Warner Junior Patriots organization is getting ready for the 2016 season and football director Patrick Keefe Jr. is expecting big things from the four teams that will represent the city.

Keefe said more than 90 boys will be suiting up for the E, D, C, and B football teams that will be playing its home games at the brand new Harry Della Russo Stadium. The ‘E’ team plays in a season-ending tournament called the “Baby Bowl” while the other three teams are eligible for regional, state, and New England playoffs – and the coveted national championship that Revere’s cheerleading teams bring back to the city on annual basis. Revere will not be fielding a team in the ‘A’ division.

“Our first game is Sept. 11 and we’ll be playing in the Greater Boston League,” said Keefe, a Revere city councillor. “There’s an eight-game regular season and playoffs.”

A few years ago Revere made a strong run at the New England title. Led by quarterback Eddie Sullivan, who’s projected as the starting RHS quarterback this season, the Junior Patriots stormed through the season but fell just shy of qualifying for the national championships that are held at Disney World in Florida.

“We’re looking forward to putting our three eligible teams in to the playoffs this year – that’s our goal,” said Keefe, whose son, Patrick, will play for the ‘D’ team this season.

Keefe is part of a hard-working board of directors that is led by president Craig Elam and includes Melissa Elam, Tracy Sullivan, Paul Belschner, Jeannie LaRosa, and Jennifer Keefe, among other officers.

“We have a number of dedicated board members that really put everything together,” said Keefe. “It’s all voluntary. No one gets paid. We put in all of our own time, lots of hours throughout the entire year.”

Keefe said the new pro-turf stadium has been a big boost to the organization. “You don’t have to worry about mud and rocks – it’s just a really nice field to practice on.”

The current RHS team has several Pop Warner graduates on its roster. Importantly the relationship between Revere Pop Warner and the high school football program, led by head coach Lou Cicatelli, is strong and growing.

“Lou is a dedicated high school coach and he and I have a good relationship,” said Keefe. “He’s offered to help run clinics and send some of his upperclassmen to help coach. We’re trying to continue to grow that relationship because if we have good success, it’s going to translate in to Revere High having better players ready to play high school football.”

Keefe knows about success on the football field. He starred for the Everett Pop Warner Huskies and was a starting offensive lineman in the powerful Everett High School football program that has won 10 Super Bowls. Keefe was a blocker for Omar Easy, who went on to play for Penn State and in the National Football League.

“I moved to Revere four days after my wife and I got married in 2003,” said Keefe. “Our anniversary is this month.”

Keefe said he introduced his wife, Jennifer, to football and cheerleading. She has been a coach of a national champion Revere team and two national finalists. “She had no real prior experience in cheerleading. She was in to dance when she was younger. Cheerleading was not her thing until I dragged her in to football and cheering.”

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