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Big-Play Packers Roll to Regional Championship

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Packers fourth-grade football team scored touchdowns on its first two offensive plays in Saturday’s American Youth Football championship game against Londonderry, N.H. And as in the Packers previous 10 games, there was no stopping them after that.

The Packers rolled to a 27-7 win over Londonderry at Leominster, Mass. The victory gave the Norwalk Youth Football League its third New England championship and first in five years. The fourth-graders are the organization’s youngest regional champions.

Jakari Walker scored on two long touchdown runs for Norwalk. Ras Fisher and Jamal Boyd also scored on long runs for the Packers, who led 21-0 at halftime and 27-0 early in the fourth quarter. Londonderry scored with about four minutes remaining.

“They had never seen that kind of speed,’’ Norwalk coach Mike DiIorio said. “They were lost.”

The Packers finish the season at 11-1. After losing its first game to Newtown, 7-6, Norwalk ran the table. It played its best football at the finish, defeating Bristol, 25-0, to win the state championship before thumping Londonderry.

Walker, the team’s lightning fast quarterback, scored on a 73-yard quarterback option on the Packers’ first offensive play against Londonderry. After Norwalk held on the next possession, Fisher raced 50 yards on a reverse. Walker ran 50 yards on a run right up the middle in the second quarter, and Boyd ran 50 yards on a quarterback option.

Bristol was ranked fifth and Londonderry was ranked seventh in American Youth Football national rankings before Norwalk played them. The Packers were ranked 14th. “I’ve come to the realization that I don’t think those teams are that bad,’’ DiIorio said. “We just might be that good. Londonderry is a team that gave up 32 points all year.”

DiIorio, who coached the team last year as third-graders, knew entering the season that his team would be strong. But he never envisioned a New England championship, especially after the season-opening loss to Newtown. “Our last four games, I think we played our best football of the year,’’ DiIorio said.

The Packers qualified to participate in the eight-team national tournament next month in Florida. Norwalk declined to participate because of the cost. “I’m happy with what we did,’’ DiIorio said. “The kids are happy, the parents are happy, the league is happy. It would be nice to go to Florida. But if it means one kid gets a Christmas present instead of going to Florida, then I’m OK with that.”

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