Sarasota youth football teams have their eyes on national championships

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SARASOTA, Fla. - This weekend in Naples, three youth football teams from the Suncoast will compete for the right to go to Atlanta for the regional tournament; then hopefully the national championship after that.

On Saturday, the 6th, 7th and 8th grade teams that represent Team Sarasota will play Team Southwest Florida in an unusual, but rewarding, round-robin type national tournament.

"FBU is Football University; the same people that put on the Army All-America Bowl. It's a national tournament, 64 teams in all," says Walt Gilbert, regional director for Team Sarasota.

The 7th grade team is made up almost completely of players from last year's 6th grade team that went undefeated. But 6th graders were excluded from the national championship. This year, there are no such restrictions, so the boys have some redemption and unfinished business on their minds.

“I think it really helps the kids with confidence. It really helped keep the kids together because winning is always good for them. We are looking forward to this weekend, and hopefully to getting to the national championship," says head coach Tom Vassallo.

So the teams need to win 2 games this weekend in order to advance to Atlanta for the sweet sixteen next weekend. If they win there, the final four is held in San Antonio, Texas the first weekend in January.

"Our strength is really our defense. Our defense is very, very good, and that helps a lot. Our offense is good, too, especially our running backs," says linebacker Robbie Vassallo.