Youth football returns to the gridiron

Jamboree events at four sites around Sacramento region
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
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The sixth season of Sierra Youth Football & Cheer is set to begin, as preseason workouts wrap up with Saturday's 2009 SYFC Jamboree at four locations throughout the greater Sacramento area. Four Division I SYFC Jamboree events will be played out on Saturday at Rio Americano, Natomas, Nevada Union and Woodcreek high schools. Granite Bay and Woodcreek, Roseville and Oakridge, Oakmont and Folsom, and Rocklin and Del Oro reignite the exciting youth football season. Regular season play begins a week later on Aug. 29. “Every week will be a dogfight because all of the most successful organized and experienced programs are in our division,” said Woodcreek Jr. Timberwolves president Jack Duran. In the Woodcreek Jr. Timberwolves preseason only the junior peewees have a full squad. The others are managing between 28-32 players. “Although we don’t have the numbers that other squads do, the players we do have are really talented,” Duran said. The Timberwolves return just one head coach from last season as Marco Esquivel is back at the head of the junior peewees. Esquivel coached at Sierra College and with the Woodcreek High junior varsity squad. Keith Biggers, Marc Astor and Brian Ridgeway are former assistant coaches who have moved to head spots with the club. Midget head coach Mike Craik led his team to a section championship two years ago. Woodcreek is a multi-talented squad as one player, Randy Wright, is also a nationally ranked snowboarder. “There is no doubt the Sierra Valley Conference will be very competitive this season,” said Granite Bay Jr. Grizzlies President Paul Periolat. “It is going to be a very exciting nine-week ride and we look forward to playing with the great organizations and communities that make up the Sierra Valley Conference.” The Roseville Youth Football Association is entering its 44th season, the fifth campaign since the Bobcats feeder program was replaced by the Jr. Tigers. Last year the Jr. Tigers had three teams make it to postseason play. Both the midgets and peewees advanced to the championship round. With the Roseville peewee team winning the 2008 SYFC championship, the rest of the league can expect some older and more experienced junior midgets and midgets. Jr. Tiger president Lisa Smith has observed the success of the Roseville program for years. “Most high schools in our area have feeder programs, but our community always has the opportunity for playoff and championship games,” Smith said. The Granite Bay Jr. Grizzlies are pleased to have added some 50 new kids and 15 new coaches to their program, according to Periolat. Twenty new players were added at the mighty mite level, 35 at junior peewee and just over 30 for midgets, junior midgets and peewees. “In the end we were able to get solid registration numbers at all levels and feel confident our kids will have a very fun and successful season,” said Periolat. “Although we have a high rate of returning players, it is always very hard to tell during the preseason how the regular season will play out. Fortunately for us we really try to focus on the development & growth of our football players.” The Jr. Grizzlies have made a significant change to their coaching structure. They implemented a new feature to the program by assigning a high school football coach liaison to each one of their squads. Periolat said the high school coaches have been essential in helping develop consistent practice structures and technique drills across all levels. Oakmont has its sights set on the robust Folsom teams heading into the Jamboree. Whether Oakmont or any local team can compete with the 2008 midget champion American River Jr. Raiders remains to be seen. Jr. Viking football coordinator Dwayne Ozenne hopes that the players learn something about football and the parents get the chance to see their kids play hard. Most of the Jr. Viking teams have returned to play and team continuity has promoted some assistant coaches to head coaches. “The high school has a new coach this year so we’ve been trying to incorporate some of his thoughts and philosophies into our program,” Ozenne said. “The kids all have their heads in the right places and are willing to be taught. Down to every last player, they’re all there to play football.” FYI: Saturday’s Sierra Youth Football jamborees: Roseville at Rio Americano Oakmont at Natomas Woodcreek and Granite Bay at Woodcreek The regular season starts next week. For weekly coverage of youth football, visit The Press Tribune online at or our soon-to-be-launched regional sports Web site