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Organizers hope to start football league - Central Oregonian
April 9, 2012Crook County High School
For the last several years, if a fourth, fifth, or sixth-grader in Prineville wanted to play football, they had to go to Bend.
That may be about to change. Local organizers are on the verge of starting a youth football league in Prineville.
“We plan on having a self-contained league of our own with five to eight teams,” said Crook County Youth Football board member Mike Gaffney. “We are looking to get 150 registered, which would be a really great turnout.”
Gaffney was quick to add that organizers are determined to make a league happen regardless of how many individuals register.
The intent of the league is to provide Prineville and Crook County residents with a place to play football without having to travel. In addition to saving on travel, organizers also believe that a local football league will save families money.
Crook County residents currently pay an out-of-district fee of $100 to play in the Bend league. The goal is to provide football in Prineville for a cost of just $60 per player.
“All the games are in Bend right now, and not only that, they are all on Sundays,” Gaffney said. “Our games will be on Saturdays or Sunday afternoons. We want to let families know that the variety of religious values in our community will be honored and we will keep Sunday mornings open for families.”
Although organizers are confident that they will be able to run a local football program, there are still a number of details that have to be worked out.
The biggest area of concern is finances. Realistically, organizers believe that it will take nearly $30,000 to initially outfit 150 students and provide for all the necessary equipment.
With registration fees currently set at $60, that means that organizers will have to generate funding some other way.
“That’s the biggest obstacle,” said Crook County High School head football coach Ryan Cochran, who is also on the youth football board of directors. “Fundraising is always tough and the community has given so much to athletics. That’s why we are looking outside the community and are looking for creative ways to fund the program.”
Gaffney was quick to add that organizers are looking at grants and sponsorships as ways to fund the program.
“We are pursuing a lot of options right now,”?he said. “There are a lot of great options out there. There is no guarantee, but we will leave no stone unturned.”
In addition to having a self-contained league, organizers are also interested in scheduling games with teams in other communities. Gaffney notes that John Day has a youth football team. In addition, Madras and Sisters have both expressed interest in playing if Prineville is able to field teams of their own.
Organizers are so confident there will be a league, that they are beginning registration on April 16. The goal is to have a player assessment day in early August, then draft players onto teams and begin practices sometime in August with games starting in early September.
“Drafting creates a level playing field,” Gaffney said. “And it’s simply a lot more fun. As a little league coach, when I get to draft my team, I feel a pride in ownership in that team. It’s so much better than being handed a roster.?These kids are chosen and I feel a connection to them.”
The goal is to have a fourth-and fifth-grade league as well as a sixth-grade league. There will be a weight restriction in the younger league, with larger players being moved up to the older league.
Although the plan is to play with 11-man teams, organizers have said that in order to have enough teams for a league, they will consider eight-man football if necessary.
“The bottom line is we believe that we can provide a program that allows more kids the opportunity to play,” Gaffney said. “We believe that we can play eight games instead of six like Bend Metro Park and Recreation currently plays, and provide it at a lower cost to the players and their families.”
Although he recognizes that there are still details to work out, Cochran is excited about the possibility of youth football in Prineville.
“I think it is much-needed,” he said. “If we want our program to be where we are winning state championships, then we have to have a youth football program. We’re just excited that there is some interest in creating a youth football program.”
Athletes who are will be going into fourth, fifth, or sixth grade next year can register for the Crook County Youth Football League from April 16-28 at Book and Bean during normal business hours.
Book and Bean is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The cost to register is $60 per student.
For more information contact Mike Gaffney at 541-556-1042.