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Youth football has hit the ground running in Groton
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GROTON — Futbol has been a late summer and fall tradition for many years in Groton, but in 2006 there is a new kid on the block.

Football has vaulted on to the scene this August, and like the two o’s in football, the eyes of Groton and Dunstable have focused on the excitement and enthusiasm that Groton Dunstable Youth Football and Cheering has generated. Practices behind Groton Dunstable Middle School South have featured approximately 140 football players and 40 cheerleaders learning their craft under the tutelage of outstanding, caring coaches. Plus a large number of parents, brothers and sisters have brought their lawn chairs and watched the practices.

Groton Dunstable Youth Football is starting their first season as a member of Central Massachusetts American Youth Football, and with the onset of the season rapidly approaching, the i’s are being dotted and the t’s are being crossed. Groton Dunstable Youth Football is driven by a dedicated and hard-working executive board, consisting of president David Howes, vice-president Pat Romich, controller/vice-president Don Pomeroy, director of football Bill Mitchell, vice-president Mickey Higgins, director of cheerleaders Becky Kendall, secretary/webmaster Linda Howes, and treasurer Marcie Desrosiers.

“This has been a daunting task,” said David Howes. “But the executive board has done a great job with support from friends, neighbors, parents and local businesses. I wouldn’t have envisioned this being this organized at this point, but kudos go to the volunteer coaches and everyone who has worked so hard.”

Groton Dunstable Youth Football was confronted with a problem that some fledgling programs never had to tackle.

“We have no high school football program in place to get equipment from,” said Howes. “We had none of the equipment in place that routinely are associated with football. The financial end has been the biggest task, and it has taken a grass roots effort. We had one great fundraising night when The Stagecoach allowed us to use their function hall for free, and a band played for free. It was a casual night out for the parents and was a big help.”

Howes, who played football in Maynard, came up with the idea of starting a youth football program after coaching last year with Tyngsboro.

“I met with the superintendent of Groton-Dunstable schools and also with Groton-Dunstable Athletic Director Dan Twomey,” said Howes. “I wanted to get this started somehow and to help show the community a need for a high school program in Groton. We took a survey among kids from the first through the seventh grades last November, and got back more than 250 responses. That was a pleasant surprise.”

Those returns indicated the interest that was present and led to the next step.

“I contacted Central Massachusetts American Youth Football,” said Howes. “It provides a little more flexibility and is not as stringent with rules as Pop Warner. Their organization is aligned with the National Football League and has over 250,000 youth members. It just seemed like a better fit for Groton Dunstable. Many of the towns in the league are the same ones that the high school will ultimately play, and the rivalries that will be created are natural ones.”

Groton Dunstable was accepted as a member of Central Massachusetts American Youth Football, and they kept the progression going toward making football a reality.

“We created a web site,” said Howes. “We took registration on-line and also advertised in local newspapers.”

The registration numbers were gratifying and the rest is history as the six Groton Dunstable teams now ready for their first season of play.

“Our fundraising needs repleneshing,” said Howes. “The cost of buying helmets, full equipment gear, and teaching aids was extensive. The high number of players and cheerleaders we have have added to the cost, but that is a good problem to have.”

As August evaporates into September, it has become crunch time for the coaches and players.

“We have very few players in the program with youth football experience,” said Howes. “The coaches are doing a great job of teaching, but patience is required.

“We are very excited about the season,” said Howes. “It has been a long time coming and I believe its time has come. It is important to create more choices for children to do, and it will be fun to see the kids grow. We are starting from scratch, but that is fun. We love the challenge.”

Come out and support the teams. Home games will be played on the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School football field. Also, visit the website at www.gdyouthfootball.com.

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