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Rec, EHS program bring back A team
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The Ephrata Rec Center, in conjunction with the Ephrata High School football program, is excited to bring back its A level midget football team this fall.
Due to a lack of numbers, the Ephrata midget program has not fielded an A team for the last two years. Players ages 10-14 (as of Sept. 1) who weighed up to 155 pounds were forced to make the difficult step from B team all the way to the Jr. High level, which some viewed as dangerous, among other things, and in turn, a lot of those players stopped coming out.
"I think (the A level) is very important because you have a situation where you have kids who may not be mature size-wise, who are not ready to play against unlimited sized kids," Ephrata varsity Coach Scott Shelley said. "I just don’t want to see them go out there and get beat up and then get turned off to football and never come out again. We want to try to create an avenue where everybody is going to have the ability to play at their level, and earn key playing time and be comfortable in doing it."
Numbers certainly warrant adding an A team this year. According to Shelley, he is blessed with a big freshman class (30 players) with an additional 19 seventh and eighth graders who have signed up to play Jr. High level.
Shelley said he would like to encourage most of those 19 "underclassmen" to play on the A team this year. It will benefit those players and the entire program in a number of different ways.
"It’s a logical progression to go from the B team to A team, then to Jr. High football," Ephrata Rec Center Interim Executive Director Jim Summers said. "In Jr High football, the practices are more intense, the players are bigger and faster. (A team) is a good logical step. We have a good A team coaching staff that has been working hand in hand with Coach Shelley. Our A team coaches are going to use a lot of the same systems, both offensively and defensively, that (Shelley) uses. One of the biggest things is it’s a chance to get more playing time. On a Jr. High team that’s going to have over 30 ninth graders on it this year, those kids will have a better chance to get some quality playing time at the A level."
"If you are a seventh grader, you are going to have to be pretty darn good to break in the lineup when you have 30 ninth graders," he said. "My idea is there is a place for everybody to play, and that’s my entire goal for the program. I know there have been kids the last couple of years, when they didn’t have an A team, who were forced to play Jr. High. They got beat up and had a bad experience. What happens? I can’t get them out. That’s what I want to try to avoid. I want everybody to have a positive experience with the football program. And there are reasons for it. Age is one, size is another, and playing time is another. I’d sure hate to see a seventh grader sit on the bench all year when he can be playing A team games and getting lots of playing time."
Another benefit to the midget program is a nine-game schedule plus playoffs as opposed to the Jr. High level where they play just six games. Also, every Lancaster-Lebanon League school, with the exception of Cocalico, has teams playing in the Red Rose Midget League.
"The A team is a real good opportunity for a lot of these kids to get a great experience," Summers added.
To register for the Ephrata A team, as well as the Rec Center’s B, C, and D level teams, contact Summers at 738-1167. More A TEAM, page B-3