Following the closure of the Pop Warner youth football league team in the valley before the 2012 season, Ben Lomond mother Dana Roach decided to launch a new team.
“Me being used to Pop Warner, I was busing my son back and forth (over the hill), and it was really hard on me,” Roach said. “I wanted to figure out a way to bring football back to the community.”
Roach, who has a 10-year-old son, contacted Pop Warner, but the organization was not interested in relaunching a local team. Instead, she reached out to American Youth Football, a growing youth football organization. In a matter of months, Roach and several other organizers had formed the Santa Cruz Mountain Cougars, affiliated with AYF.
“So far, we have good support from the community,” Roach said. “Honestly, we have more players than expected.”
The new team will have three divisions based on age and weight: Tiny Mites for players age 7 and younger, Junior Peewee for ages 9 to 11 and Junior Midgets for 13- to 15-year-olds. Each division will also have a cheerleading team.
Roach suggested that if San Lorenzo Valley High does not field a freshman football team this season, many of the young players could benefit from playing for the Santa Cruz Mountain Cougars before beginning junior varsity football as sophomores in high school.
The teams will begin practicing July 22, and an eight-game season will begin in August. All practices and four home games will be played at SLV High School, 7105 Highway 9, in Felton. Other games will be played throughout the Central Coast against other AYF-affiliated teams.
In addition to players, Roach said the teams still need coaches. Candidates are encouraged to attend an AYF coaching clinic.
“Anyone interested, we’d definitely like to hear from,” she said.
Youth football registration, bake sale
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 6
Where: Felton Covered Bridge Park, Graham Hill and Mount Hermon roads, in Felton
Details: Santa Cruz Mountain Cougars, an affiliate of American Youth Football, will debut this summer with football and cheerleading teams for children age 15 and younger. Participants are split into three divisions, based primarily on age.
Cost: $150 per football player, including borrowed equipment and jerseys; $75 per cheerleader, in addition to the cost of a uniform (about $75)