Youth football teams ready for kickoff

Loudon Quarterback Club’s Zay Manson sprints away from Lenoir City Youth Football Organization’s Camden Moore on Saturday during the Sequoyah Youth Conference Jamboree at Vonore Elementary School.

The Lenoir City Youth Football Organization and Loudon Quarterback Club youth football teams are a step closer to the season starting after competing Saturday in the Sequoyah Youth Conference jamboree at Vonore Elementary School.

All four Loudon Quarterback Club teams played a quarter against LCYFO and Sweetwater in what Stephen Wolfe, LQC president, said was a positive experience.

“It was a great day for us because we played two of strongest programs in the conference in Sweetwater and Lenoir City, and those two programs have been competing for championships at every level for the past several years,” Wolfe said. “We had a really good day. Our Super Crickets won both games, did not give up a score, which is unusual in Super Crickets because it’s usually a track meet. We had a lot of young kids that got experience, which is what the jamboree is all about.

“Our Crickets are probably the most inexperienced team we’ve got and probably about nine out of 27, 28 kids have never played tackle football,” he added. “You can really see them progressing as they’re kind of figuring out what they’re doing out there, and we lost that one to Lenoir City 6-0.”

Luke Noe, LCYFO president, was also pleased with how the four teams competed.

“Everybody performed as expected in the jamboree, and most of the teams got at a win going into all of their games so we’re really excited going into a big week versus Bradley,” Noe said. “We’ve just got a lot of new kids that are coming out to play football in Lenoir City, so, obviously, it’s a learning curve trying to teach them the game of football because there’s so many facets to the game. We’ve got good numbers on every team and by game three or four I think we’ll be geared up and ready.”

Both organizations are seeing new faces this year.

“We kind of got significantly increased participation this year, which is more than the past few years,” Wolfe said. “We’ve got a lot of kids out there on the sidelines, a lot of kids that haven’t played football, especially our first three levels of Super Crickets, Crickets and Hoppers — all three have a lot of new kids that are learning the game. I think from the start of the year to the end of the year, we’re going to see tremendous improvement. These teams are probably going to look a lot different as they go through the years.”

“I’ve lined up as many games as possible in the preseason because it’s important to teach them the fundamentals of the game, and then it’s just getting the reps,” Noe added. “It’s going out and playing different sets and games and getting the mental reps and getting those guys prepared to go to battle. Most of them are ready because we’ve got them mentally tough, and they’re ready to go out and play football.”

Loudon begins the regular season Saturday at home against Madisonville. The Super Crickets will start at noon. The three remaining teams will play every hour afterward.

“Madisonville is kind of going through a little bit of a rebuild because they’ve got very new leadership, so they’re kind of trying to get things turned around,” Wolfe said. “They do not have a Cutters team at this point, so we’re lining up another avenue to play our Cutters. Their other teams, though, have got really good participation numbers, and we saw them in the jamboree and they looked pretty good. I think we’ll have our hands full, and we’ll have to go out there and play well and limit mistakes.”

Lenoir City will host Bradley at noon Saturday starting with the Super Crickets.

Noe believes all four teams have the potential to compete for a league championship, but Bradley will be the biggest force to overcome.

“Bradley is the biggest town in our conference and they always have the largest team and pull from various schools, so they’ve got a big advantage over us,” Noe said. “They’re always one of the top towns so it’ll be an absolute tough four games. We expect to win them all, but none of them are going to be easy. I feel like at LCYFO that we drew the toughest competitor, which is fine because that’s what we want. We want to compete.”