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LIFETIME OF MEMORIES - DAC Panthers hold their own in NFL Flag Football World Championship – QNS.com

LIFETIME OF MEMORIES – DAC Panthers hold their own in NFL Flag Football World Championship

The DAC Panthers may have finished in last place in last week's NFL Flag Football World Championship (FFWC), held in Cologne, Germany. But they acquitted themselves just fine.
Going up against teams two- and three-years their elder, the 11- and 12-year-old Panthers - Yianni Gavalas, Eddie Roscigno, Nicky Athanasopoulos, Anthony Libroia, Kostas Akoumianakis and Brian Kruger - never had a chance, finishing 1-3 in pool play and then dropping two straight to Spain in the ninth-place three-game series. Yet, they left optimistic. &#8220The best thing for me, as a father and coach, was [after games] when most of the coaches and officials would come up to me and tell me how good these kids were and how they challenged the bigger teams despite their age and size,” Coach Jimmy Gavalas said proudly.
As part of the week-long trip, the Panthers - the least penalized team in the tournament, earning them the FFWC Fair Play Award - got to meet kids from nine other countries. Star receiver Eddie Roscigno, for one, hung out with several members of the Chinese team. &#8220We talked and interacted a lot,” he said. &#8220They taught me a few words in Chinese, like goodnight and bye.”
&#8220They kind of see us as their little brothers,” continued Roscigno, who scored 10 touchdowns. &#8220They are all very friendly and even though we're smaller than they are, they know we can play and put points on the board.”
The problem wasn't scoring, but matching up defensively with the taller, stronger, quicker opposition. Gavalas pointed to one play against the Netherlands when Roscigno was in perfect position defensively for an interception. But the Netherlands receiver muscled him out of the way, reaching up and snatching away the ball. &#8220He gave the biggest leap he could give us,” Gavalas recalled. &#8220He was in the right spot, he read the play; it was just perfect.
&#8220We would beat someone on a post, and they were so fast, by the time Yianni (their quarterback) threw the ball, they would be there,” Roscigno added. &#8220I know for me, personally, I got frustrated a lot.”
It was a humbling experience for the Panthers, a group not used to losing. Nevertheless, on the long nine-hour flight home, the team took solace in the rare experience. &#8220It's a good thing,” Roscigno said of the trip. &#8220It's going to help us.
Gavalas said the boys were already talking about the upcoming DAC season, with regional playoffs coming in October. But, Roscigno added, they wouldn't soon forget their week in Germany. &#8220It was something not every 11- or 12-year-old gets to do,” he said.

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