Young Bulldogs continue to improve

Published 12:05 am Friday, July 1, 2016

Andalusia’s Kaden Denson fights through an arm talking in last year’s Big Iron Bowl against McKenzie.

Andalusia’s Kaden Denson fights through an arm talking in last year’s Big Iron Bowl against McKenzie.

With baseball season winding down and many heading out for their summer vacations, the Andalusia Youth Football League Board of Directors remain very busy preparing for their upcoming season.

After a successful 2015 campaign in which the league captured three Tri-County Super Bowl Championships, two Big Iron Environmental Bowl Championships and two Enterprise Fall Classic Championships, AYFL President Dodd Riley says the Bulldogs are still hungry and seeking more competition for the upcoming season.

With that in mind, Riley says the AYFL and the two remaining members of the Tri-County Football League (Evergreen and Opp) are joining a new youth football organization.

The newly formed South Alabama Youth Football League will feature teams from Evergreen, Opp, Luverne, Highland Home, Georgiana and the Andalusia Bulldogs. “We have spent many hours putting this new league together and are very excited about the competition we will face,” Riley said. “Opp and Evergreen always have great talent and the addition of the other three teams should add even more challenges and exciting football action. It is our goal to become one of the strongest youth football leagues in the state.”

Riley also said AYFL will again compete in out-of- conference play in addition to their regular season games.

“We have already scheduled a game with the Red Level Youth Football League in late August and are working with Newton Peters of the Florala Youth Football League to continue our tradition of playing the Wildcats in preseason action,” Riley said.

Finally, the AYFL will host their 3rd Annual Big Iron Environmental Bowl at the conclusion of regular season play.

The AYFL consists of three age divisions: Mighty Mites (7-8 year olds), Termites (9-10 year olds) and Pee Wee (11-12 year olds). Head Coaches for each team is as follows: Mighty Mites coach Ronnie Levitkse, Termites coach Michael Jackson and Pee Wee coach Marcus Jones.

Another important part of the AYFL are the cheerleaders. Led by cheerleader sponsor Vickie Whitehurst, the AYFL Cheerleaders field a group in each age division. “The talent and enthusiasm of those young ladies really promote the spirit of AYFL,” Riley said. “Mrs. Vickie and her staff always do an outstanding job and we appreciate them very much.”

AYFL Board Member and Termite assistant coach Brett Holmes is excited about the Bulldog Termites, which are currently on a 15-game winning streak and looking for more wins.

“We finished our season last year undefeated and with three total championships. That was a very special group and the bulk of our offensive and defensive linemen are returning,” Holmes said. “For the group to be 9 and 10 years old, we teach a fairly complicated scheme on both sides of the football. Last year’s team mastered those schemes and we expect no less from this year’s group. With as many returning starters as we have, plus the addition of a very talented 9 year old group, we should not miss a beat.”

Holmes returns to coach Michael Jackson’s staff along with coaches Duan Davis, Steve Jackson and Shaun Jackson.

This staff has been together longer than any other currently in AYFL.

Riley also noted that the AYFL will hold their annual Youth Football Camp on July 23 from 8 a.m., to noon at the Andalusia High School Football Stadium for ages 7-12. Assisting AYFL coaches with the camp will be members of the Andalusia High School coaching staff and players.

“This is always a lot of fun for the kids. The instruction they receive from our AYFL coaching staff is important, but younger Bulldogs interacting and running drills with our high school coaches and players is really exciting,” Riley said.

One does not have to be an AYFL football player to attend the camp nor do they have to be an Andalusia City School System student.

The cost of the camp is $15 per attendee.

In other news, Riley says the AYFL is actively seeking sponsors for the upcoming season.

The cost of a sponsorship is $100 per business or individual. By purchasing a sponsorship, the business or individual’s name will be displayed on the league T-shirt, on the league banner displayed at all home games and announced multiple times over the public address system during home games.

The Andalusia Youth Football League is a non-profit organization operated solely by volunteers.

Due to that, 100 percent of each sponsorship directly funds the program for the purchase of equipment, uniforms and other needs.

Any business or individual interested in sponsoring the AYFL may contact any board member, Riley at 488-0883 or AYFL Vice President Ronnie Levitske at (706)614-7066.

Coach Holmes says he is just ready to get on the field.

“My friends always accuse me of being more excited about football season than the kids,” Holmes said. “This is probably true, but I, along with the other coaches and board members, truly enjoy watching these young men and women learn to be teammates, succeed on the playing field and, most importantly, learn life lessons they can carry on with them into adulthood. We consider ourselves a vital part of the Andalusia Football Program as most all of the kids we watch on Friday nights started here. We are looking forward to another good year and encourage the community to come out and support this program.”