PLYMOUTH – Youth football players in Plymouth will have a new league to hone their skills this fall.
The Rockie Youth Football League will begin play this coming season. The league will be run in conjunction with the Plymouth High School football program and will play on Saturdays in the fall. The idea is to operate the league as a “feeder” program for the team.
“The focus is going to be on fundamentals,” said Plymouth head football coach John Barron. “We have some very basic things that we think it’s very important for kids to learn and we want to be there to help out.”
“I think the fact that we won’t be traveling so far to play games on the weekend is a big plus for parents,” Barron added. “All our games will be right here. The last I looked gas was $3.65 a gallon, and I think it will help parents by not having to pay so much to travel so far so they can see their kids play. Later on if we find that some teams want to come to Plymouth to play us that will be fine, but we’re going to play right here.”
The board of directors of the new league will involve many of the coaches and officials of the Marshall County Football League such as Joe McKee and John LaFree. Also on the board are PHS Freshman Coach Phil Bockman, eighth grade coach Brody Shively and Barron. The impetus for founding the league was a desire to prepare area youth players for playing at the older levels.
“Traditionally our seventh grade teams have struggled in that first year of playing after junior football,” said Barron. “A lot of that has to do with how tough our seventh grade schedule is, but some of it has to do with them not being familiar with a lot of things that get thrown at them all of a sudden. We hope we can take away some of that learning curve by teaching them at the older level of the youth league.”
While Barron says that coaches in the league will not have to run the exact high school offense — double tight ends with a full house “T” formation — there are certain concepts and plays that will be taught to each team.
“No matter what kind of football you play or formation you run you’re going to have a base offense — a dive play, a power play, a sweep play, a misdirection play, a play-action pass and maybe some short drop passes,” he said. “We’ll have a base defense — a four-four like the one we run — that will let defensive players learn about their responsibilities but also help our offensive lineman know who to block. A lot of our offensive linemen come in without knowing who they should be blocking.
“We’ll have coaches meetings with our coaches just like we do at the high school to go over what we’re teaching and what progress kids are making. We don’t want to tell them what to run, but we do want the kids to know these basic plays and formations before they move on to other things.”
Sign-ups for the league will be on April 30 and May 7 and 14 from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. The league is open to any player grade 2 through 6 in Marshall County. Parents should bring their children to door 6 at Plymouth High School near the multi purpose room on the northeast side of the school. Players signing up will be fitted for new equipment the league is purchasing for its first season.
“We’ll have a draft similar to what they have now, but it will have a little twist,” said Barron. “We’ll be having a Plymouth Day as we get closer to the season that will put the kids through some basic skills tests so we can be sure to get the teams as close to even as we can.
“We hope we can get four or five teams in a younger league and at least four in an older league. This is a work in progress so we’re not going to hesitate to make adjustments as we go.”