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Junior Hubs provide North with football foundation

August 17, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

HAGERSTOWN — The hazy heat of August and the crashing of helmets against pads signify that football practice is in full swing.

While North Hagerstown’s JV and freshman teams run drills and prepare for the upcoming season, there is a group of smaller jerseys and whiter helmets mimicking them on an adjacent field.

Say hello to the Junior Hubs, a group of 6- to 14-year-olds vying to become future gridiron stars for North Hagerstown.

The Junior Hubs were started in 2011 by North freshman coach Ron Thomas and JV coach Dave Foltz to give younger kids a chance to play travel football. The Junior Hubs play in the Mountain Valley Youth Football League with 11 other high school-sponsored programs, including Boonsboro, Catoctin and South Hagerstown.

The players are split into four leagues: Mini-Pony (6-8), Pony (9-10), JV (11-12) and Varsity (11-14).

“The future is travel football,” said Foltz, the Junior Hubs Varsity head coach. “Being able to run our system at this level is only going to put these kids on the fast track at the high school level. It better prepares them.”

Foltz and Thomas — along with the other coaches in the league — are teaching the Junior Hubs the same systems that North High uses on gameday. They believe their players have an advantage over other community football programs because they will be exposed to the same plays for up to 11 years.

“Knowing our system, the kids will see the same plays on Friday night that they will be running on Saturday and Sunday night,” Foltz said.

“Our varsity boys are learning the same system as our freshmen team,” said Thomas. “We’re implementing our own system into the (MVYFL).”

The coaches aren’t the only voices the players are hearing in practice. Players and coaches from North Hagerstown’s high school varsity and JV teams stop by and offer valuable lessons as well.

“The kids from the high school teams have to get their SSL hours to graduate, so we give them hours to come out and help coach our players,” Thomas said. “It gets the kids excited when star athletes help them out.”

The league has not been without its faults, however. While the Ponies went 8-3 last year, the JV team went 2-7 and the Varsity team headed by Thomas went 0-9. Foltz took over this year and is using last year’s record as motivation.

“I’m using 0-9 as fuel for them. This year is a new attitude,” Foltz said. “All of the returning players are motivated to be part of this team. They want to be part of the first win and wherever this season takes us. By the end of this season, I fully believe we’ll be in playoff contention based on what we’ve seen in practice.”

Foltz and Thomas are aware of the youth of the MVYFL itself, but with exposure, they expect the Junior Hubs to become another cog in the growing North Hagerstown community.

“Last year we had 14 varsity players, this year we have 28. Last year we had one Pony team, now we have two,” said Thomas. “We have about 50 players that we didn’t have last year. We’re growing. Everybody — including the coaches — was learning a new system last year. But now that we have kids in here and the support of the community, I fully expect the league to grow every year.”

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