The organizers of St. Marys’ youth football programs say a league change and reorganization will assure every boy in St. Marys will have the opportunity to play football, no longer held back by weight or roster restrictions that previously kept about a dozen kids off the field each fall.
The youth football program, which has a long history dating back 40 years in St. Marys, is undergoing a league change and a reorganization to fill in those cracks. The St. Marys teams — the Rams, Stallions and Colts — are moving from the Tri-County Youth Football League to the Crossroads Football League. The Broncos will become a club seventh grade team and have its former players re-drafted into the other three St. Marys teams.
“There will be no more kids turned away from youth football,” one of the St. Marys organizers Craig Gottschalk said.
The Crossroads Football League, which has no weight restrictions and unlimited roster sizes, has teams from Celina, Sidney, Fort Recovery, Ansonia and could add a team from Shanwee. The Tri-County league, once 32 teams strong, was down to 13 teams a season ago. The league limits players to 128 pounds and limits roster size to 32 players.
“Most of the teams leaving have been leaving because their schools have started seventh grade football and they didnt’ feel like they could compete in the league because all the other teams had seventh graders on their teams,” Gottschalk said.
The organizers of the St. Marys teams tried to recruit new teams to the Tri-County league but were unsuccessful. They then made what they called a difficult decision to move to the Crossroads league.
The Broncos will put their players into the draft to be drafted by the Colts, Rams and Stallions. The Broncos will morph into the seventh grade club football team. The team will use the Broncos’ equipment and coaching staff. The team will receive no funding from the school.
“Every kid in the seventh grade in St. Marys, whether they are at Holy Rosary or at the public school, can play for the seventh grade team,” Gottschalk said.
The Colts, Rams and Stallions will now be divided into a JV (third and fourth grades) and varsity squad (grades five and six) and will play doubleheaders.
“Some parents were concerned with third graders practicing against sixth graders, but the teams will be separate,” Gottschalk said. “The JV plays their own schedule, it will be the same schedule and they’ll play the game before the varsity game. And they have their own playoffs.”
It will be up to the individual coaches whether the JV and varsity teams will practice at the same time or have separate practice times.
The organizers said the traveling distance should be about the same as in the Tri-County league. There will be only one preseason weigh in. At the varsity level, a player must be under 120 pounds to carry the ball. At the JV level, ballcarriers must be under 90 pounds. Defenses cannot put a player over the center at the JV level in the new league.
With the flag football program now in place with 96 participants a season ago, every student in St. Marys looking to play some level of football will find a place to play.
Coaches of the teams suggested that parents with questions find each team’s Facebook page, where info will be posted and questions can be answered.