CYFL season opens up
High school and college football teams begin their season next week and professional teams won't hit the field until early September.
However, the Texas football season kicked off this weekend with the opening ceremonies of the Crossroads Youth Football League on Friday at the O'Connor Sports Complex.
The first game of the CYFL season is set for Saturday between junior league teams Yorktown and Yoakum Silver in Yoakum.
The first opening ceremonies recognized all of the teams in the four divisions from the Victoria area - 6U, 8U, 10U and 12U - and welcomed the coaches, players, parents and fans to the start of football season.
This year, there are more than 1,200 players from the Crossroads area in the league.
"The response is great. I'm really pleased with the amount of kids playing this year," CYFL president Kevin Black said.
Those players will play in eight games over nine weeks with first full slate of Saturday games taking place Sept. 1. At the end of the season, the teams will go through a three round playoff, ending with each league's Super Bowl.
"It's a very popular league," CYFL commissioner Gary Moses said. "It has been pretty good to have the league received so well."
In all, there are 52 teams playing in the four divisions entering the 14th season of the CYFL. Teams in the Victoria area will play their home games at the St. Joseph O'Connor Complex. At the end of the season they will get to play at Victoria's Memorial Stadium.
"It's always fun to get to play on a high school field under the lights," Black, who coaches the 12U Warrior Black team, said. "These guys look up to their brothers and cousins who play on the same field."
The CYFL began in 1999 with just about 165 kids from Victoria.
"It has grown significantly over the years," said former league president David Hartman, who is now a volunteer coach at St. Joseph.
Hartman was one of the people to start the CYFL 13 years ago, but the original idea came from Walter Hamilton. However, the CYFL isn't the first youth tackle football league to come to the Crossroads. Back in the mid-1970's, the local YMCA had a tackle football league, but it eventually was shut down.
Without a youth league, kids first time to experience tackle football was on the first day of middle school practice.
"The goal was to allow kids an opportunity to play," Hartman said. "It is a competitive league, but we've always focused on the fundamentals and developmental skills."
Now that he is coaching on the high school level, Hartman sees the benefits of the CYFL.
"If we, as coaches, do our job in the CYFL, the kids should be a leg up," Hartman said. "From just knowing how to put on equipment to stances and other basic skills, they are a little better grounded headed into middle school."
Since its inception in 1999, the CYFL has expanded from teams just in Victoria to the entire Crossroads community. However, there are still plenty of ways to make the league better.
One change Black hopes to implement for next season is to align the teams with players who will be attending the same school.
"This year we did change to a Warriors-Titans format to mirror the schools," Black stated. "We wanted to line up the districts with the schools, but it didn't work out this year."