January 21, 2009

Spring tackle football season for teens in works

PLATTSBURGH — Efforts are under way to organize a spring tackle football season for area teen-agers with hopes of beginning play in April.

Fred Gagnier, who has been active with the Malone Mustangs youth program for 10 years, is serving as league director with an organizational meeting scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m., in the Plattsburgh Days Inn conference room. Representatives from each school district are encouraged to attend the meeting.

The Upstate New York Spring Football League is in full compliance with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, according to Gagnier.

“This will be a developmental league with teams being formed from different communities and coaches working together on teaching the players the game of football,” Gagnier said Tuesday. “It will not interfere in any way with school programs and in the case of a conflict, we will put the school program first.

“The experience and knowledge the players gain from the coaches will help them be better prepared for the upcoming school season and future endeavors at the college level. The main focus will be all players entering the football combine will be drafted on a team and league rules will require them to play no less than half of the game. We encourage coaches and players to have fun and enjoy the game of football and make new friends from the other school districts for future years.”

All varsity football coaches and their assistants are welcome to participate.

expenses.... charging entry fee per player average $100-150 per entry fee

Plans call for four divisions. The East Division will include teens from the Beekmantown, Plattsburgh and Peru areas; the West Division from Saranac, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake; the South Division from AuSable Valley, Moriah and Ticonderoga; and the North Division from Massena, Malone, Potsdam and Tri-Town.

There will be two levels — Midget for athletes age 16-18 and Bantam for ages 13-15. Players must be in school and any players who moved up to the varsity or junior varsity level for the full school season will be allowed to move up to the next level. There will be an entry fee of $100 to $150, according to Gagnier, with fundraisers planned to help offset the cost of middle of the line equipment.

Teams will consist of players from the established regions and will be drafted by the coaches after the football combine, tentatively scheduled for March. Registration will begin in February with practice to start in early April and games to follow two weeks later.

The regular season will consist of at least six games with more possible depending on the number of teams from each division.

All teams will take part in the playoffs.

High-school rules will be followed on the field with a zero-tolerance policy for coaches, players, parents and fans at all times. No alcoholic beverages or drugs will be permitted on or off the field and violations will result in immediate termination.

Each player on the team will play for at least a half of the game. Teams will consist of at least 22 players. Any formation will be allowed so long as seven players are on the line of scrimmage during each offensive play. Blitzing is allowed with no restrictions and trick plays are encouraged for the fun of the game.

Each regional director head coach will have to provide a treasurer, equipment manager along with offensive and defensive assistants, a special team coach and a statistician.

Equipment will be ordered together and passed out together on a fun day for all to celebrate the upcoming season and to also go over the league rules, with players and coaches.

There will be a league website developed to provide information on games, rosters, fundraisers, player profiles and more.

“We will continue to improve every year and there will be bumps and bruises, but also many enjoyments throughout the season and in coming years,” Gagnier said. “With everyone working together the season will be enjoyable and football in the North Country will become stronger.”

For more information, call Fred Gagnier, at 483-9203 or 353-2832.