Manhattan's Downtown Giants Win First Game in National Championships
By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Associate Editor
MANHATTAN — The Downtown Giants are one sweaty step closer to the national championship.
Manhattan’s only public youth football league bested Houston’s Third Ward 49ers 28-14 Monday during a sweltering American Youth Football playoff game in Orlando, Fla.
While their friends and family back home bundled up in coats and hats, the Giants panted their way to victory under 78 degree weather with 71 percent humidity.
"The 49ers are a strong team and we feel very proud to have beaten such a talented opponent," said Giants coach Julian Swearengin. "This has been a great experience for all of us and we are honored to represent the Empire State and New York City."
"We played very well offensively and were able to control the clock and wear them down," he added, citing the efforts of players Aaron Alers, 15, and Liam Wahl, 13.
During the two-hour game — which began at high noon — the Giants scored early, then held the 49ers to two touchdowns while scoring another three of their own.
After the game, the players made a beeline back to the hotel and straight for their swimsuits.
"They’re really hot — we’re heading back to the hotel and they all want to jump in the pool," team mom Linda Ortiz told DNAinfo as she escorted some of the team back from the winning game.
"It’s good, everyone’s really excited. It was a tough game, they played well," she added.
The Giants' next game is scheduled against the Central Falls Panthers from Rhode Island at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The win is a huge first showing for the team during its first time in the national spotlight.
The Giants got their start four years ago, when founder Brian Giffin and coach Julian Swearengin decided to tackle the lack of youth football in Manhattan. Since then, the league has swelled to 8 teams with 200 players between the ages of 6 - 16.
They caught the national eye this season, by beating bigger, better-equipped teams from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx to earn a 7-2 record.
As a result, they earned a Wild Card spot this year at the American Youth Football League’s National Championship competition. The playoffs run from Dec. 5 to Dec. 12.