The Newcomerstown Trojan football program has begun a major new initiative in the younger ranks of the program. For the first time, the Trojans will not only have their biddy football teams play under full contact game conditions, but also compete in the Claymont/Indian Valley Pee Wee Football League. In the past, the biddy players only played flag football that was set up as inter-team scrimmages.
Approximately 40 boys are participating with half on the 3rd-4th grade team and half on the fifth-sixth grade team. Both teams began practicing the same day as the high school varsity squad (Aug. 3) by beginning with five days of conditioning. The second and following weeks involve learning specific positions and techniques in full gear in preparation for their first game.
The league is broken down by grades. The third-fourth grade teams are Junior Varsity and the fifth-sixth grade teams are varsity. There are five teams total with three from Uhrichsville, one from Indian Valley, and one from Newcomerstown. All games are played at the field adjacent to the old Dennison High School in Dennison. The Trojans first game is Saturday, Sept. 12, with the junior varsity playing at 1 p.m. and the varsity playing at 3 p.m.
Newcomerstown High head coach Eric Brock said, "This was a major goal I had for our program as soon as I got the head coaching position. It's crucial for any solid program to teach the younger kids the fundamentals and terminology early in their careers so that by the time they get to the varsity level, they're ready to play. It took a while to get the right people into place and we've been able to make that happen. This program is extremely important for the future of Newcomerstown football."
Steven Brode, Jonathon Zufelt and Don Stevens came together to organize the Trojan biddy football teams and have received much help and support from parents who are volunteering their time to make it a success.
The program got a big boost from the North Canton youth football league, which sold much of their used equipment to the Trojans at a sizable discount over what it would cost new. These included such items as shoulder pads, helmets, pants and related pads.
Volunteer coaches for the Pee Wee junior varsity include Greg Kennedy, Don Stevens, Brian Little, and Jason Bryant. Coaches for the Pee Wee varsity include Lee and Allen Fish, Tony Russell, Ben Johnson and Craig Hickman.
Brode commented, "We have a great group of volunteer coaches assembled who are doing a great job. They are working very hard and this program absolutely could not succeed without them."
Added Zufelt, "It takes a lot of people to make something like this happen. All of our coaches have been doing a fabulous job juggling work schedules and making this reality. The kids are getting great instruction and motivation. They really are breaking new ground since they are the first classes to go through this. It will have an impact on future grades."
The league plays under high school rules but the same format as junior high, where there are no kick-offs and each team starts at the 30-yard line. However, there are punts and two-point conversions.
After the four regular season game, a play-off will take place which gives teams a total of five games. A championship will then be played by those who advance.