Nearly 500 athletes compete in Belton
Sunday, 29 April 2012 by Keith Bahlmann
Belton's 7-on-7 Football Junior High Spring league got underway in a big way for its sixth season this week. Nearly 500 players turned out for 19 games at four different sites Tuesday.
According to organizers, this is the best turnout the program has ever had --- a total of 486 had officially registered with a few additional players expected by game time.
Broken down by BISD's three middle schools, South Belton fielded 15 teams with 172 players; Lake Belton had 15 teams, composed of 187 players; and BMS turned out 130 players for 11 teams.
Looking at the number of teams by grades for all three schools, the sixth graders have 14 teams, 14 more teams for the seventh grade and an additional 10 teams made up of eighth grade players.
The league is used to introduce 7-on-7 football to youngsters in the spring and to help all improve at throwing and catching, pass coverage, defense and just becoming a better all-around football player. Youngsters learn how the league works and, hopefully, it will get them to practicing the skills and things that will help them to later be successful. It's all free and anyone who wants to may participate.
This program was started in the spring of 2007 with about a dozen teams. This year, there are 38 teams as the program has almost quadrupled since its beginning.
All teams have a sideline sponsor (adult or high school student) and BISD coaches will be present at all games. Although coaches aren't allowed by rules to coach, provide transportation or money for activities, they are allowed to help organize, supervise and even officiate when needed.
This year 80 high school volunteers will be mentoring the younger players. Many of these volunteers learned from high school players when each of them was in middle school.
There is something new this season. A Lineman's Challenge, just like the high school uses, has been added to the junior high league. It is basically a series of events like tug-o-war, tire flip, bench press, farmers' walk, etc. where the different teams compete against each other and score points for each event, much like a track meet. The team with the most points at the end of the challenge is the winner.
The Belton junior high league will play in April and May, ending with a tournament and lineman's challenge on May 4th.