Youth Football Association tees up 28th season of gridiron action 2,300 youngsters ages 9 to 15 will comprise 88 squads in four weight divisions

September 08, 1992|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Staff Writer

The only real uncertainty as the Anne Arundel Youth Football Association kicks off its 28th season Friday night is where the organization will conduct its season finale -- the county championships.

Vince DePasquale, third-year president of the state's largest youth football organization, says he would like to see the daylong event return to Anne Arundel Community College's Siegert Field.

But rising stadium fees might leave county administrators no choice but to move the event to an area high school.

"The community college is ideal and they have all the facilities we need, but we have to see how much they are going to charge us this year," said DePasquale, whose organization forked out more than $800 last year to use the complex. "We're a non-profit organization so cost has to be taken into consideration.

"I would like for it to be at the community college, but if they're going to charge us an arm and a leg again, we have to move it back to one of the high schools."

Regardless of where the game is played, five teams will try the difficult task of repeating as champions.

The Severn Athletic Club will try to defend its titles in both the 75- and 95-pound weight classes, while Crofton will try and defend its championships in 115-pound "A" and "B" divisions.

The Pasadena Chargers enter the season as defending champions of the 135-pound class that no longer exists. The 135-pound class, which allowed older/lighter and younger/heavier players to compete last season, is now a 140-pound division with a straight cutoff at that weight.

DePasquale is hoping the 5-pound increase will help boost enrollment among the 13- to 15-year-olds, but adds that the new division is strictly experimental and subject to change next season.

"What we have seen lately is that there were a lot of kids just at, or above, 140 pounds and we wanted to take in those additional kids," said DePasquale. "All of our age and weight groups are based on orthopedic and pediatric tables that figure the average weight of a person at a particular age and our program is directed at the average person.

"Our football program is the biggest in the state and has been for years because we direct it toward the average-size kid and not the big kid like some organizations. By doing this, we get the majority of the kids involved. It's unfortunate, but the real big kids are in the minority, and there's just no place for them to play."

With 2,300 players ages 9 to 15 participating on 88 teams in four weight classes, it would appear that there is a team -- and a helmet -- for every county youngster yearning to buckle up a chin strap this fall.

Not so, says county recreation supervisor Franklin Chaney.

"We have the same number of teams as we did last year, but the number of kids has increased, so we've had to turn more away this year," said Chaney, the county administrator in charge of youth football.

"It's tough for the organizations to turn away kids, but most are getting turned away because the organizations simply don't have the equipment or the money to buy the equipment.

"We tried to send kids to other organizations that had vacancies, but some kids don't want to have to travel. We're definitely going to address this problem at the end of the season."

One problem the AAYFA has addressed, and, it hopes, cured, is the emotional strain that often comes with lopsided victories.

The organization has implemented a new "slaughter" rule that states a game will be stopped after the third quarter if a team is trailing by 35 or more points.

Chaney believes it will be an improvement over the old rule that gave a team trailing by 22 or more points the option of taking the ball on its 40-yard line after an opposing team scores.

"The most important thing we're trying to accomplish here is to keep the scores down and still let the kids have fun," he said. "It's tough to add these rules that aren't really rules, but 50-0 games aren't fun for anyone."

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