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 My Youth Flag Football Team 
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Post My Youth Flag Football Team
In case you guys didn't know, I've been coaching youth flag football for 3 years. I coach a team called the Chargers. The first season I coached, we went undefeated and won the championship in the 4th-6th grade division.

After that, we made it to the championship game two other times, but lost close games, and to the playoffs every season except one in which we were eliminated by a tie-breaker.

Last season, we were asked to move up to the 6th-8th grade division, which is the highest division in the league. We moved up with three 6th graders and two 5th graders. Along the way, we picked up two 8th graders that had never played football, but were pretty good athletes. Finally, the first game of the season we picked up a last minute kid who is also in 8th grade, who turned out to be an incredible athlete.

Our first season together, we struggled in the first half and were usually down big at halftime but came back in the 2nd half. We went 4-2 and made the playoffs, but got knocked out in round 1 against the eventual champs, the Tornadoes. The game was 23-18 late and we had them backed up on fourth down, but they made a play which evetually led to a touchdown drive and a 30-18 lead.

All of our kids promised to come back and wanted to have practices in between seasons. So we did.

I had coached defense every season, but this past offseason I decided to put a playbook together and run the offense. My brother switched from offense to defense.

Our first game of the season, we played the team that lost in the championship game. It was a hard fought game which we lost 36-34. We knew we had some work to do on defense.

The next two games, we won 44-0 and 34-2 (allowed an interception returned for a TD on an extra point). Then we started playing the tough teams, and in a double header beat one team 13-6 and the defending champs 18-13 after being down 13-12 late. We ended the season avenging out only loss of the season in another high scoring, close shootout.

We went 5-1 and secured the first seed.

In the first round, we faced the Raptors, who were 2-4 but gave us a very tough game. We wound up winning 28-26 with a last second score.

On to the championship and again... we faced the defending champ Tornadoes.

Early on it was a defensive battle as the score remained 0-0 for most of the first half. Late in the half, our QB threw an INT that was returned for a TD, so we went into the half down 6-0. At half time, we talked our kids up, told them this was it... the last game of the season and they needed to put every ounce of sweat into this game because there was no tomorrow.

It seemed to work as we put up 26 points in the second half and only allowed one TD against a team full of explosive weapons.

We won the game 26-12 and are now the champs in the 6th-8th grade division at the Palmetto Bay flag football league.

It has been one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done to coach up these young boys. Think about it, a bunch of 5th and 6th graders, two 8th graders that had never played and one raw athlete went on to beat teams full of only 7th and 8th graders.

It's a moment I'll never forget.

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Mon May 20, 2013 3:28 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
Amazing work Rich!

Nice job man... that's a huge feat considering the size difference between 5th/6th graders to 7th/8th graders!

Keep it up !


Mon May 20, 2013 6:30 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
Nice job Rich! Coaching youth athletics is an amazing experience. I coached CYO Basketball in NYC for 7 years in the 90's and it was the most fun I ever had doing anything sports related. I had the same core of 7 players every season from when they were in 5th grade until 11th grade.

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Mon May 20, 2013 11:32 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
phinsfanmel wrote:
Nice job Rich! Coaching youth athletics is an amazing experience. I coached CYO Basketball in NYC for 7 years in the 90's and it was the most fun I ever had doing anything sports related. I had the same core of 7 players every season from when they were in 5th grade until 11th grade.


Funny you mention basketball. Instead of defending our throne, the boys want to play basketball now.

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Mon May 20, 2013 11:34 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

I can't wait for my son to play sports. I hope he has good coaches who care about kids and the game.


Tue May 21, 2013 1:37 pm
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
MissHell wrote:
Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

I can't wait for my son to play sports. I hope he has good coaches who care about kids and the game.


Too much emphasis in youth sports is about winning, and not player development. Part of the reason American soccer and hockey are further behind then they should be.


Tue May 21, 2013 5:54 pm
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
Phins Rock wrote:
MissHell wrote:
Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

I can't wait for my son to play sports. I hope he has good coaches who care about kids and the game.


Too much emphasis in youth sports is about winning, and not player development. Part of the reason American soccer and hockey are further behind then they should be.


Agreed.

One of things I noticed when we were playing the championship game was that the other team kept their 5 best players in all game. They had three players on the sideline that they didn't put in until we were up 26-12 with less than 3 minutes to go.

We rotated our players all game long. Granted we put them in positions where they had the best chance of success, but at least they all played and contributed to the win.

We also spent a lot of time with individual drills in practices. For example, our starting QB had never played football before. Last season, late in the season, we put him in at QB and noticed he had a strong arm, but terrible mechanics. In between seasons we worked on 3, 5 and 7 step drops. He had a habit of dragging his feet and looking down during his drop backs. So we put cones that he had to step over and made him do push ups if he looked down during his drop backs.

He finished the season with 28 TDs and 6 INTs.

We also had a player average an interception per game on defense. Last season, also his first, he was terrible on defense. So we worked on PFP (perfect football position), back pedals and turning his hips... and like I said, he had an interception in every game.

If you take the time to develop players, your team is ultimately better for it.

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Wed May 22, 2013 5:50 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
I always remember there being so much favoritism in youth sports... especially in a small town where it was all about name and I didn't have one. I was probably one of the best athletes on my teams growing up and rarely got a chance to thrive.


Wed May 22, 2013 8:52 am
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Post Re: My Youth Flag Football Team
Hey guys, here's a team picture.

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From front to back and from left to right.

Sebastian Rodriguez - 5th grader, positions - slot receiver and DB blitzer (3 picks on the season, good pressure on QBs)

Jacob Landress - 6th grader, positions - back up QB, slot receiver, DB and blitzer (smallest player on the team, biggest heart, 3 INTs on the season)

Jonathan Lugo (my stepson) - 6th grader, positions - center, DB (good headfakes, good safety valve receiver)

Henry Colwell aka Andy Dalton - 8th grader, position - QB (strong arm, if he continues to play, he could develop an NFL arm, throws passes 40+ yards on a rope, needs to continue working on mechanics)

Adrian Borges - 8th grader, positions - wide receiver, DB - Defensive MVP (10 picks on the season, several deep TD catches)

Michael Whyte - 8th grader, positions - wide receiver, running back, blitzer, DB - Team MVP (runs a 4.5 40 at 15 years old, this kid is a difference maker)

Gabriel Castillo aka Freight Train - 5th grader, positions - wide receiver, running back, DB - (he is a tremendously raw athlete, as a 5th grader we had him covering the other team's best wide receivers and he held his own, finished the season with 2 clutch interceptions in the playoffs)

Nicholas Colon - 6th grader, positions - slot receiver, blitzer - used to be one of our best players, then stopped playing for over a year, took a while to get him reacclimated to the game but he did a good job of pressuring QBs

Back row - coaches

Dominic Smith - Assistant Coach - plays slot receiver at Florida Tech - he's going to be a good coach one day - knows how to talk to the kids, keeps an even keel, also played QB in high school

Richard Rodriguez - Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator - it was my first season running the offense as I've run defense for three years. I ran over 30 plays out of 5 different formations. Different plays were designed for different defenses (2-1-2 zone, 1-3-1 zone, man to man etc). We averaged 29 points per game.

Martin Acuna (my brother) - Defensive Coordinator - he used to run the offense, but switched to defense. His personality fits defense better as he is in your face, vocal type of guy. His defense allowed 15 points per game, which is unheard of in 5 on 5 flag football with so many good QBs and fast kids.

Danny Landress (Jacob's dad) - Assistant Coach - he's the guy that kept us calm and in check during tight, emotional games.

This is our championship team.

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Thu May 23, 2013 8:52 am
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