On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to head on down to Monroe Jefferson to catch some youth (5th/6th grade) football. A friend of mine had told me his son’s youth football team was playing down at Cisco Field in Monroe. I remember a few weeks back that he had told me his son was playing youth football in a four-team league in the area. I thought that most of the youth football around these parts had been cancelled because of the pandemic.
I jumped at the opportunity to go down and catch a couple of games. I especially wanted to see my friend’s son who I have watched grow up over the years, but have never seen him play one of his three sports (what a novel idea, a three-sport athlete).
I have to admit, I haven’t been to a youth football game in years, but I have to say, I was amazed at how organized everything was. I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than I figured teams would run the ball with their limited offenses that consisted of 3 running plays each way. Coaching would be poor at best. Boy, was I wrong. What I found was, for the most part; teams that were well-coached, disciplined, and kids and parents were having fun in what has been a tough year for everyone.
I was amazed at the offenses that these teams were able to run. Two of the teams ran offenses that looked like Milan, Carlson or Huron, another ran the familiar-looking T offense run by SMCC, Ida and Riverview and yet another ran a traditional pro-style offense. The coaches and sidelines were well organized and positive, the uniforms and equipment newish, the officials were great and the parents were supportive of everyone.
While the league seemed to have two Huron teams, a Catholic team and a Jefferson team; I found out that their were kids from all over the place. Schools districts represented were; Bedford, Ida, Erie Mason, Dundee, Monroe, MCES, Airport, Jefferson, Huron, Van Buren, Woodhaven, Carlson, Flat Rock and Livonia. I’m sure there were probably others as well.
I was amazed at the talent that I saw on the field. These kids could run, throw, block and tackle very well. Heck, one team kicked the extra point! You could see stars in the making and others that were just happy to get some playing time and be part of a team. The coaches were legit. I listened to a coach address his team in a time-out while planning a 4th and short with his team down a few scores. I watched another, as he talked to a young player with great empathy after he had been dinged up on a play. It was character building at it’s best.
In watching these kids play, you could see how happy they were. They were outside with old friends and new, playing a game that they love and one that is uniquely American amid a world-wide pandemic. And while to some, it may seem wreckless to have kids banging into each other in close quarters, the effect on the mental health of everyone there was apparent including my own. This was a good thing!
Look for these 5th and 6th graders in the not so distant future as they will be part of 2027 and 2028 football graduating classes. Some names to remember; Brody Deland, Mason Bailey, Jake Evans, Noah Herron, Luke Beaudrie, Owen Delano, Vincent Harris, Cash “Muzzy” Moczydlowsky and Cole Federoff