SHEPHERDSVILLE - Another season of play in the Greater Bullitt County Youth Football League will kick off on Saturday as the league’s nine programs get ready to battle it out over the next 13 weeks to crown champions in all four age divisions.
The independent football league is the second-largest sports program in Bullitt County, trailing only youth basketball in terms of participation.
Even at that, league president Joe Downs, who is starting his eight year at the helm of the league, said last week that the overall numbers of football players, cheerleaders and dance team members is down somewhat this year. When all is said and done, the league should involve right around 1,000 youths in the community.
On the flip side, as of last week, all nine programs expected to field four football teams, something that hasn’t happened in a number of years. Brooks did not field an ‘A’ team last season and at various times in the past Lebanon Junction has had to drop programs. Still, there are some teams with only 11 or 12 players.
Downs said that many teams were hoping to add a few players after school started this week. The league president said that while there was an increase in dance teams and that cheerleading was stable, that the drop in numbers was more in football.
One obvious reason Downs pointed to for the decrease was the extreme heat in July. He also said that a handful of ‘independent’ teams in the area had taken some players, mainly from the Colts, Patriots and Bengals. In addition there is the fact that many sports like baseball and soccer are becoming year-round activities for some.
“Hopefully, the numbers will pick up,” Downs said. “Some of the kids just don’t like the heat. I think when school starts we’ll pick up another 25 to 30 kids.”
Heading into this season, Downs said that there are very few changes in the league. One change that had to be made is that the league will provide its own officials for the three youngest divisions. Over the past few years, the league has used its own officials for the Little Bullitts and PeeWee divisions, but used Kentucky Football Officials Association for the ‘B’ and ‘A’ games. That organization raised its rate 50 percent, causing the league to make the switch.
“We have a budget,” Downs said. “Ron (supervisor of officials Ron Washburn) and I discussed it and we felt we had enough (officials) so we’ll give it a shot.”
The schedule has not changed its format for this season and the league will not change the price of admission again this year. A recent change that will stay in place is that (on their bye week) the local teams will man the concession stands as a fund-raiser. Last year, that returned roughly $12,000 to be split between the nine programs.
Downs also looked out over the two fields last week and smiled as the smooth green surfaces. Still, he knows that after a few weeks of play or after the first weekend with rain, the fields will be in much rougher condition.
While the league has had nine programs since adding Pleasant Grove a number of years ago, there has been talk of altering the ‘A’ division to make it six teams based more along the lines of the six middle schools in the county. There have already been committee meetings held and Downs said that there is a plan in place as soon as the executive board decides to take a final vote.
The plan now would keep the nine present programs for the younger divisions and creating six new programs to conduct the ‘A’ division. Each of those would have NFL type names as the programs have now, but the boundary lines would mirror those of the middle schools.
One point that brings a smile to Downs is that the officers for the league have had very little turnover in recent years. That continuity has helped the league a great deal he says.
For 2012, the league officers are: Joe Downs, president; Joe Sohm, vice-president; Tammy Richmond, secretary, Terry Williams, treasurer; Jeremy Wilson, sergeant-at-arms; Frankie Walls, finance secretary, Ron Washburn, supervisor of officials; Jason McMichael, program director; Allen Downing, football coordinator; Amanda Collins, cheer coordinator; and Dara Huff, dance coordinator.
Important 2012 Dates:
August 11-12 - Opening Weekend
September 1-3 - Labor Day Weekend, no games played
October 13-14 - Last weekend of the regular season
October 20-21 - First weekend of the play-offs
November 3 - Championship Saturday
November 10 - All-Star Saturday
November 18 - Cheer and Dance Championships
Games will start at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and at 1 p.m. on Sundays with all games played on the fields located at the old Shepherdsville High School on Joe B. Hall Avenue in Shepherdsville.
Admission each day will be $3 for adults and $1 each for students and senior citizens. Season passes for both individuals and families will be on sale during the first two weekends of the season at $65 for a family of four and $30 for an individual. There will also be a senior citizen pass for $10.
As in the past, The Pioneer News will run youth football league results each Wednesday on page B-3 and on www.pioneernews.net.