Doug Jeffrey, who serves as the Chief of Staff for Mayor Joseph Polisena, was about to perform a difficult duty under Sunday’s sparkling sun that covered Johnston’s state of the art football stadium.
Meanwhile, Polisena – in whose honor the stadium is named – walked onto the artificial playing surface with Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and officials of the Johnston Youth Football League and CLCF (Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future).
In the middle of it all was Gary Salzillo, who owns and operates Northeast Auto Body on Hartford Avenue but also holds the title of JFL President. He also does the public address announcing when the 12U squad isn’t playing a game, but Sunday he turned that duty over to Jeffrey for a brief, yet highly-important ceremony.
There were no speeches – just a super special show of support for the Jaxon Marocco Foundation that benefited from the sale of t-shirts and gate receipts from Sunday’s intra-state football games between Johnston and CLCF.
By day’s end, three Johnston Youth Football League teams came out victorious and two CLCF squads staked claim to victory.
But the day’s real winner, as Jeffrey and others pointed out, was the Jaxon Marocco Foundation that was created after the tragic death of Jaxon Marocco, son of Mark and Tori Marocco, who was diagnosed with Neimann-Pick Type A, an extremely rare and fatal disease that took the toddler’s life after only 22 months since his birth on Sept. 14, 2014.
“God Bless the Marocco family for what they have had to endure,” Jeffrey said over the public address system at Polisena Stadium. I’m honored to be part of this event; our hearts certainly go out to Mark and Tori.”
With officials from both youth gridiron groups – as well as Polisena and Fung standing at midfield – Salzillo motioned to 12U standout Dante Iafrate and cheerleader Taylor Powell to come onto the field.
They were both carrying bouquets of balloons colored purple and white and would soon release them into the air in memory and honor of Jaxon Marocco.
“I’m honored to be here,” Polisena told Salzillo. “I love it when I see our youth football players on this stadium. I just love seeing all the kids having a good time and playing sports. Our hearts go out to the Marcocco family.”
To which Fung added: “I’m proud to see the community come together to keep Jaxon’s memory alive. He will forever live in our hearts and these generous donations will ensure his legacy continues.”
Meanwhile, Jeffrey received well-wishes from a number of people and said he too was honored to be part of the event and also congratulated Salzillo, saying “I admire the work you and your wife Toni Ann do with the Johnston Football.”
The day began with Johnston’s 5-1 8U squad, which is coached by John Costa, posting a 6-0 victory over CLCF to extend its winning streak to five games. Defense was the key to victory and Costa credited Jonny Costa, Aiden Harrison, Ryan Waterman, Robert Segama and Jazziah Mazzulla for their super defensive efforts.
Salzillo’s 12U team maintained its unbeaten string and ran its record to 6-0 after a 26-8 triumph vs. the Chiefs. Brandon Parsons, the 12U’s super running back, racked up 216 yards rushing on 14 carries while scoring four touchdowns. Nicholas Baccala gained 95 yards on 18 carries and scored two extra points.