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Old foes start new season for WCJFL

August 22, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

HALFWAY — The Washington County Junior Football League will pick up where it left off last season.

The youth league kicks off its season with a rematch of last year’s championship game between the Smithsburg Jets and the Clear Spring Chargers on Friday at 6:30 p.m. under the lights of Marty L. Snook Park.

The Jets won the title with a 14-6 victory, but a new year offers a fresh start for the Chargers and the nine other Junior teams.

“I expect to see a good game Friday. Both teams come from an area that is really into football — especially at the youth level — and they’re well-coached,” said WCJFL president Scott Paddack.

“But that’s the whole point of the championship rematch. How much have these teams changed? Are the younger players going to fill the void of the graduates? Those questions apply to the whole league.”

Both the Junior level (fifth-eighth grade) and the Pee Wee level (third-fourth grade) play an eight-game season leading to the Junior championship in November. The Pee Wees start their season on Sept. 1.

The season is starting a week earlier this year because the league is expanding the playoffs from four to eight teams.

“We’re expanding the playoffs so we can have a deeper championship run,” said Paddack.

The WCJFL is designed to teach young players the fundamentals of football along with the values of sportsmanship and healthy competition. Every player on the roster plays.

It makes the league the gateway to the high school game.

“You’re coming out to see the minor leagues of high school football,” Paddack said. “(The players) like the sport enough to come out and play and, by the time they get to eighth grade, they’re playing all the time. “Fans are discovering the new crop of high school stars through the WCJFL.”

There’s more to the WCJFL than the games. The league focuses on safety because the players are students first and athletes second.

“We’ve been on the forefront of concussion research and awareness. My focus is on safety for the kids,” Paddack said. “We also want them to focus on school first. Education comes before athletics.”

 More than 1,100 players or cheerleaders have signed up, but there is still time to register.

“We’re still the best game in town,” said Paddack. “You want to participate? Bookmark our website and find our flyers. We give everybody an opportunity.”

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