Youth football program sees growth, produces Super Bowl champions
Football progress has been evident in Basehor at the high school level in recent years with the Basehor-Linwood High School squad posting a 17-3 record during the past two years.
Improvement hasn’t been limited to the big kids, though. The youth football program has seen significant growth as well.
Since the Basehor Youth Football program’s inception in 1996, participation has risen steadily through multiple age groups. The city had eight teams competing this year between the flag football division and sixth grade, and 163 youths played. Basehor teams captured NYSSO Football League Super Bowl championships at the flag, third-grade, fifth-grade and sixth-grade levels.
The season ran from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, and coach Ed Pruitt said players at all levels learned the fundamentals of the game.
“We want the kids to learn and understand what to do and how to do it,” Pruitt said. “Ultimately, we are preparing the kids to play at the next level, but we have a lot of fun along the way.”
Some of that fun included a youth recognition night at a high school game, and players were honored on the field before the Bobcats’ game against Mill Valley. Each team also played a home game in the BLHS stadium on the new field turf. In addition, about 75 players participated in a pre-game ceremony at the Kansas City Chiefs’ game against the Arizona Cardinals Nov. 21 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Youth football coaches met with BLHS head coach Steve Hopkins to discuss how he prepares his team, so that youth players can be better prepared for the high school level.
That’s just part of the connection between the youth program and the high school program, Pruitt said.
Youth players could be spotted in their green Bobcats jerseys at every BLHS home game, and Pruitt said he believes the high school program’s success has helped the youth program grow.
“Every year our number of players have increased,” he said. “I believe some is due to the popularity of Basehor high school football and some is due to actively searching for kids to play. Each year I see kids that don’t have a team to play on because teams have met or exceeded their maximum (number of) players. I do not believe any kid should be turned away, so I work with NYSSO Commissioner Troy Wisemen and we find a home for these kids. So far it has been creating a new Basehor team and not only having Basehor kids, but kids from other communities. Edwardsville, Bonner Springs, Piper and Tonganoxie all have players playing for a Basehor team. I have met some really dynamite kids and parents from those communities.”
Youths interested in joining the football league next year can contact Pruitt at (913) 915-1240.
View photos of this year's Basehor-sponsored teams in this week's editions of The Chieftain and The Sentinel.
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