The Tucson Jaguars 13U team started its quest for a national title with a 28-6 win Monday against New London (Conn.) Whalers at Kissimmee, Fla.
The Jaguars next play in the AYF National Championships semifinals Wednesday at 11 a.m. against the Marshall Heights (N.C.) Bison, who beat the Long Branch (N.J.) Wave in another opening round game Monday.
Van Birchek opened the scoring for the Jaguars against New London with a 60-yard touchdown run.
Noah Banhie, Damian Mutchler and Daniel Amaya next combined on a safety sack.
Jake Rogers, son of Salpointe coach Eric Rogers, connected with the Diaz twins — Gabriel and Christian — on two touchdown passes. He completed a 32-yard scoring strike to Gabriel and a 70-yard touchdown to Christian.
Nasim Pedrego also had a rushing touchdown.
Benecio Ruiz made all four extra-point attempts.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District