Youth football league loses two of its teams


At play


The Central Maryland Football League, based in Howard County, lost two of its programs recently but could be looking at starting another one.

Mike Milani, president of the CMFL and sports supervisor for Howard County Recreation and Parks, confirmed that the Columbia Ravens and the Randallstown Panthers left in April to move to the Harford/Baltimore County Youth Football League.

"The Ravens and the Panthers have been very strong teams in our league," Milani said. "They left for more competition. Some of the other [CMFL] programs were not willing to do what it takes to be more competitive, and we have a much more balanced league [now] in terms of competitiveness."

Milani added: "I understand why the programs did what they did, and I support their decision. I think it's great for their A-level teams, but I'm not so sure about their B-level teams. They were in a tough spot because nothing they did would satisfy either group."

Both programs had been with the league, which has two divisions based on ability, for the last several seasons. Randallstown had been part of the CMFL since its inception in 2001. Columbia joined the next year.

The CMFL expects to have nearly 2,000 children ages 5-14 playing in six age groups this season. Allen Fleming, founder and director of the Howard County-based Community Church of Christ Warriors, said the CMFL has very strong feelings about the way it wants to run things.

"I look at it that some people have their own ideas about what youth football is," Fleming said. "I'm happy with what we have ... and long term, we're going to achieve the purpose that we got together for, and I don't think anything's going to stop that."

Seven programs remain in the league - the CCC Warriors, Howard County Terps, Howard County Steelers, Western Howard County Warhawks, Elkridge Hurricanes, Catonsville Stars and the Damascus Cougars.

Milani said league officials are considering starting another program, possibly in the Ellicott City area.

The Western Howard County Warhawks' program has about 515 children registered, with several more on a waiting list, and Milani said the beginning of a new program in that area could ease that situation.

If a new program started, however, Milani said it would be for the 2007 season and not this fall.

Practices begin Aug. 1, with games beginning the last Saturday of the month. The regular season lasts for 10 weeks before the playoffs. Some championship games were held at M&T Bank Stadium the past few years - home of the Baltimore Ravens.

Milani has been a driving force in the league and remains optimistic about the future.

"I think [the changes] make for a better league for the teams that are left," he said. "I think we will add more programs, but we have to make sure everyone has the same philosophies."

Said Fleming: "Learning the fundamentals of the game, learning how to form friendships, be dedicated to each other, depend on one another and winning ... in the game of life is [important]. I'm one of the founders of the league, and we've been ... servicing [many] kids, and to me they're going to get what they came for."

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