Youth football returns to the gridiron

Aug 17, 2022

Are you ready for some football? The young players in the Dartmouth Youth Football league sure are.

As of Aug. 1, the young players have made their way back to the gridiron outside Dartmouth Middle School to prepare for the 2022 season.

“I think it’s going to be a very good season,” said League President Chris Pereira.

This season, he said, is also going to be the biggest one yet. Pereira noted that the league has 175 kids — 135 in football and 40 in the cheer program.

“Our numbers are phenomenal,” he said. “It’s another big growth year.”

Along with the increase in participants, the league has seen some big upgrades to the equipment the kids can use.

One of those biggest investments is a two-man sled players can use to practice their blocking. Pereira said that with this new equipment, it can help the kids focus on their hits without having to worry about falling back.

“Sometimes the younger kids line up and don’t think about technique, they worry that they might get embarrassed when they get knocked back,” he said. 

While this new piece of equipment will help gain that knowledge of how to tackle, Pereira said it doesn’t beat the real thing. 

Eventually, he said, the kids will get the chance to scrimmage against other teams, something Pereira said he and the league’s players are excited to begin.

“That way they can hit another face instead of your teammates the whole time,” Pereira said with a laugh. “It’s nice to tackle a person in a different colored jersey.”

Eight-year-old T.J. Sylvia said tackling is easily his favorite part of going to practice.

“I just like hitting people,” he said.

His teammate, Achilles Jin, also enjoyed working on his tackling. Although he added that he didn’t like it was another activity he had to do during his summer break.

“First the math program, the YMCA, and then this,” he said.

Other upgrades the league has gotten include helmets for the players and new uniforms for the cheer squads. The cheerleaders are also getting new mats to use once they transition to indoor practices.

Currently, the girls work on their routines outdoors, but will move inside once the season starts next month.

“We’ve definitely invested a lot in the league,” Pereira said.

The girls in the varsity cheer squad are also raising funds to make a return trip to Disney World for another run at the Pop Warner national championships in Orlando, Florida.

“The girls are looking for a ton of support,” Cheer Coordinator Kayla Nunes said. “It’s a lot of money.”

Another treat the kids got was a surprise visit from former Dartmouth High football star Clyde Andrews — who also designed the current iteration of the school’s Indian logo placed on the helmets used both by his alma mater and the youth football league.

During the talk, Andrews discussed the history of the logo and the importance of making sure it is “treated with honor.”

“It was really cool,” Pereira said. “He only did it for five to seven minutes, but he was great. He even stuck around a little bit to watch a practice.”

The 2022 DYFL season will officially kick off on Aug. 28 with games at Memorial Stadium on Slocum Road.

“It’s going to start early in the morning and go on all day,” Pereira said.