Youth Football Draft Saturday

Photo by Max Foster. |

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Adrenaline rushes, stomach butterflies and eager anticipation will be fueling aspiring young football players tomorrow, July 28, when they report to Northern Arizona Youth Football League coaches for preseason drills and the annual draft that places the athletes on the teams they will play for throughout the 2012 season.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the Rumsey Park south multipurpose field, coaches will open the session by putting the prospects through a series of drills and evaluations.

Later the players will be placed on teams and coaches will provide them and their parents with all the information needed to begin practice July 30.

Throughout the season, practices will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays at Rumsey.

At tomorrow’s practice, first-year PHS football coach Jake Swartwood and members of his staff are expected to attend and share their expertise.

Also tomorrow, players will be fitted for their team jerseys, said Pamela Way, the NAYFL Payson president.

Way is also quick to point out that youths who participate this season will be outfitted with top of the line Riddell helmets, specially designed to help prevent the concussions that in recent years have morphed into a major safety topic.

Manufacturers say the helmets are constructed with energy managing materials and a face mask attachment system that disperses energy from frontal impacts.

“We were able to buy 100 new ones at a cost of more than $7,000,” said Way.

This season, Payson is expected to field five teams — one in the first-second-grade league, two in the third-fourth division, and another two in the fifth-sixth league.

The 2012 season kicks off with opening day ceremonies Aug. 18 in Show Low.

Grade level placement

In NAYFL play — unlike the Central Arizona Youth Football Association of which Payson formerly was a member — players are assigned to teams according to their school grade level.

In CAYFA, players were aligned on teams based on a weight and age formula.

Way says she favors grade level assignments because, it is “all grade based (with) no weight limits which puts the youngsters on a much safer level.

“They basically are playing with classmates from school.”

Also, when Payson Youth Football was aligned in the Verde Valley-based CAYFA, local teams played opponents from Prescott, Mingus, Sedona and Cottonwood.

NAYFL ranks include teams from Show Low, Blue Ridge, Round Valley, Winslow, Holbrook and Snowflake.

This year, St. Johns has joined NAYFL for the first time and will field a full slate of teams.

“There will be more than 1,000 kids playing (in the league),” Way said.

Payson Youth Football has been a vagabond of sorts in the leagues, aligning itself first with CAYFA, then in 2009 jumping to the White Mountain area league and a year later returning to CAYFA, then moving back to NAYFL.

After one season there, Payson returned to NAYFL play.

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