Junior Football League kicks off season

September 07, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY -- The professional football season does not begin until Thursday, but the next generation of players hit the field Monday at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park in Halfway for the opening day of Washington County Junior Football League.

More than 1,100 children are signed up as football players or cheerleaders this year, said Scott Paddack, president of the league, as he announced plays during a Titans-Raiders matchup Monday afternoon.

The league has 22 football teams and 14 cheerleading groups, he said.

Lessons in football mirror life lessons, said Randy Brown, assistant coach of the Clear Spring Chargers. He's coached the team since 2000, even when he didn't have a son of his own playing. This year, he's coaching his son, 12-year-old Dylan Brown.

"It teaches them that 100 percent -- that's all you can give. Later in life, give your all in everything," Randy Brown said.


Bobby Brennan, 13, of Hagerstown, plays for the Redskins this year, and said he's been playing football for 7 years.

"I get to take all my emotions out on the field," he said.

Bobby, and several of his fellow players, said the best thing about football is that it gives them an opportunity to "hit people."

Bryan Davis, 13, also plays for the Redskins, as a running back.

"I like running the ball," said Bryan, who is an eighth-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.

He wants to continue playing football in high school, "if I grow," he said.

Denise Miller's son, Josh, plays for the Chargers, and she tries to watch all of his games, she said.

"It's what he wants to be involved in. He loves his football," she said.

All the children get to play. It's written into the league's by-laws that each child plays a minimum amount of time during each half of a game, Paddack said.

George Robinson, 12, plays for the Giants.

"I like the experience. I just want to go far (to the championships) every year," he said.

If he's good enough someday, he'll be able to go to college to play football, George said.

The teams practiced every day for a week this summer, and have two practices a week during the season.

All the practice is worth it "when you win," George said.

Riley Lazich, 12, another Chargers player, also thinks the practice is worth it, and hopes he'll be able to play in high school. His coach, Randy Brown, tells Riley he'll be able to make the high school team.

Riley's mother, Tara Lazich, tries to make it to all his games.

"He's learned it takes a team to win," she said. "And a lot of discipline."

Mackenzie Kaiser, 9, is cheering for the second year this season. It's her first year cheering for the Chargers.

"We get pom-poms and get to wear uniforms," she said. Her squad has been practicing a lot, and Mackenzie said she wasn't nervous to perform in front of the crowd Monday.

Fellow cheerleader Kelsey Proctor, 13, has been cheering for the Clear Spring Chargers for six years.

"It's fun and you get to hang out with your friends and get to dance and do stunts," she said.

The 16-member squad has been practicing since Aug. 3, the girls said.

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