The purpose of the annual combine of the KFL U19 Varsity category is to provide new players an opportunity to showcase their athletic ability and physicality in front of coaches ahead the annual league Draft. Coaches evaluate athletes during drills such as the 40-yard dash, 5-10-5 pro agility, 3 cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump and bench press. Fundación American Football Films (FAFF) provides support to more than 30 players of the KFL across its four age group categories.
“Big players make big plays in big games” is a widely spoken mantra among football coaches everywhere. But when these accounts are also complimented by photojournalism, the result can often transform a routine event into a most telling and memorable moment.
This is the case for Lucas Ardito Barletta of the AIP Fighting Owls who made a catch late in the second quarter of last year’s championship matchup against the Brader Raiders which was captured by photographer Joniel Omaña of Teen Sports and printed on the front page of that magazine the following day.
“It definitely feels great to be publicly recognized”, commented Ardito Barletta during an interview with American Football Films. “I think there couldn't have been a better moment for that play to happen because at the moment we were losing and not feeling great about ourselves. That play gave us kind of a spark, and great positioning to score and put ourselves ahead for the first time in the game.
The catch occurred at 4:27 remaining in the second period which advanced the ball deep into Raider territory to about the 10 yard line. The Owls were behind by two points with the score 8 to 6. After the catch, Ramon Maduro scored on a short run a few plays later giving the Owls its first lead of the game. The Fighting Owls went on to win that game 22 to 16 to secure its eleventh straight championship.
“This catch will stand out more than most others in my memory, mostly because of the moment in which it happened and because of how big and important winning that game was for us”, said Ardio Barletta. “Being a part of the Fighting Owls is one of the best things there is, and winning the championship is something you will remember for the rest of your life”.
Just a few days after the championship, seemingly with little or no time to even wash uniforms between seasons, Ardito Barletta and teammate Ramon Maduro were on the field again with the Fighting Owls for the opening ceremony of the 2012 varsity season in which they both participated.
“My goal is always to set a positive example for my teammates”, Ardito Barletta said. “ To continue to build a new dynasty in the varsity league, and play an important role in leading the team to the championship.”
Ardito Barletta was 15 years old during the 2012 sub-15 Kiwanis Football League (KFL) season in which he averaged 5.9 yards per carry, made 28 tackles, had 4 interceptions, and made 6 kickoff returns for 213 yards for an average of 36 yards per return. He finished the season with a total of 3 TDs. He will play his second Varsity season this August.
Jose "Curls" Perez is a student athlete of Panama starting his second year of Varsity football with the Balboa Academy Dragons of the Kiwanis Football League. The son of a former Major League Baseball player, Jose is currently an the 11th grade student at the renown Canadian International School of Panama where he maintains a 4.5 GPA. He is an experienced player of Flag football as a wide receiver and defensive back. "Curls" maintains dual citizenship with Canada and Panama.