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The History of Stanley, North Carolina   

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Stanley Jr. Pee Wee Football Team

2002 National Champions in Pop Warner Football!

It was quite a season!
The Stanley Blue Devils accomplished quite a bit this year:
Finished the season a perfect 15-0
Won Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee Division II National Championship
Outscored opponents 603-48
Had three players score at least 22 touchdowns

Click on the images to view full size.

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The following story and pictures are courtesy of the Gastonia Gazette.

The Perfect Storm
Stanley wins Pop Warner national championship, completes dominating season
BY DERICK Moss Gazette Sports Reporter
Saturday, December 14, 2002

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Stanley Blue Devils Quinton Smith (74), James Conn (50) and Patrick Armstrong (7) celebrate with teammates after the team's 33-6 win in the Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee national game Friday in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla.  Nothing, it seems, could stop the Stanley Blue Devils this year, not even Mother Nature.
Despite a driving rainstorm and a flooded playing field, Stanley continued its year-long domination of 10-year-old foes and captured the Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee Division II national championship with a 33-6 rout of Newington, Conn., on Friday morning at the Walt Disney World Complex in Orlando, Fla.
With nearly 100 fans and parents in attendance, the Blue Devils completed a 15-0 season in relatively easy fashion--the same way they've dispatched most of their opponents this season. Preston Watts scored a pair of touchdowns and Darius Edwards and David Larson returned interceptions for scores as the Blue Devils capped their perfect season.
"Our kids just never let up. They play hard from whistle to whistle," head coach John Rudisill said. "I'm very proud of them and the way they acted all week and the way they played today.
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Stanley's David Larson, left, intercepted two passes Friday including this one, which he returned 75 yards for a touchdown.
"They made the city of Stanley very proud ... really, they made all of Gaston very proud." The rain started late Thursday and continued throughout the night. When the kickoff came at 9 a.m., the rain seemed to be coming down in buckets. According to Rudisill, players sloshed through a water-logged field and the worst conditions they had seen all year.
"We were drenched before the game even started, then it poured rain and got even worse," he said. "I bet the field was six inches under water."
But the conditions didn't seem to hamper the Devils' big-play offense, which routinely posted gains of more than 50 yards throughout the season.
Newington scored on the game's first possession, meaning The Devils had to play from behind for one of the few times this season.
The lead didn't last long.
On fourth-and-six, Justin Clark broke free on a counter play and rumbled 40 yards for the Devils' first score. On the Devils' very next play from scrimmage, Watts turned an inside trap play into a 70-yard touchdown run.
"We've got great team speed," Rudisill said. "I don't think they quite knew what hit them.
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Stanley Blue Devil players get ready to douse their coach, John Rudisill, with Gatorade following the team's win over Newington, Conn., Friday morning. The shower probably didn't bother Rudisill or the players -- the game was played in a downpour for most of the morning.
"One of the keys for us was that we backed our running backs up an extra step so they could get a better start on the soggy field."
When Newington (14-1) got behind, they went to the passing game and the strategy backfired.
Edwards picked off a pass and sloshed 75 yards for another score giving Stanley a 19-6 halftime lead. And the flood gates--both literally and figuratively were opened.
"We noticed that the Knights were keeping two guys in their backfield and throwing to the tight end, so we just moved our linebacker over there and started covering that man," Rudisill said. "It was about the only play they ran out of that formation so the strategy worked for us."
In the second half, Watts added a 55-yard scoring run and Larson keyed the defense by picking off two passes--returning one 70 yards for a score. Clark tallied four extra- point conversions on the day and the championship came home to Stanley.
The Blue Devils' championship was the second in Gaston County history--the Gastonia Little Orangemen won the title in 1976. But this team might have been the most dominant youth team in county history.
The Blue Devils outscored their opponents by a staggering 603-48 margin this season even--even more impressive considering that under Pop Warner rules, when a team is behind by 28 points or more, the trailing team gets the ball at midfield and doesn't turn the ball over until it scores. That rule was invoked in every Stanley game this year.
Individually, the Devils also shined. Watts scored an amazing 33 touchdowns this year, while Edwards totaled 26 and Clark 22. Quarterback Patrick Armstrong threw 14 touchdown passes.

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Photos courtesy of the Charlotte Observer
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The team returning from Florida after winning the national championship.

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Up Stanley Historian Retires with R Pictures Page 1 Pee Wee Football Panorama Christmas 2002 Country Fest 2002

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