In an effort to expand participation, increase general player safety and athleticism, and reduce the risk of concussions, the Indian Lake Little Laker and Benjamin Logan Little Raider Programs are making major changes for the upcoming season.
IL Head Football Coach Dave Coburn, along with BL Head Football Coach Jeff Fay, report this fall the Little Laker and Little Raider programs for third through sixth graders will use the OHSAA 7 on 7 format with slightly modified rules that will incorporate the run game, making it basically a limited‐contact or touch football game.
“We are going to introduce the concepts of football just like we have been. It’s just not going to have the tackling or the blocking elements introduced with it,” explains Coburn.
Coach Fay adds that, “By reducing instructional time in one area we will be able to increase instructional time in other areas that become more important as players move on to higher levels of competition.”
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the Little Lakers have practiced full contact football with some modifications based on age and weight. However, the recent national debate surrounding sports head injuries and the lasting impacts of concussions in college level and professional level football players sparked much discussion among local parents and coaches.
Coburn hopes this format change will ease the fears of some parents who are hesitant to allow their child to participate in youth football. He says, “We hope this provides some security that we’re heading in the right direction to try to minimize the chances that our young student‐athletes are getting injured or having a concussion at a young age.”
Coaches say the Little Lakers and Raiders programs will continue to focus on all the skills that you can work on in football without contact, such as running, throwing, catching, and defensive pursuit angles.
Because both Indian Lake and Benjamin Logan’s youth football program are instituting the same format next fall, the two schools will play against each other during the 8‐week season. Coach Jeff Fay says, “This decision is being pursued with the intent of making the game safer, but also increasing the athletic ability of all the student‐athletes who need to be able to run, throw, and catch in various sports. We are also excited that Indian Lake and Benjamin Logan are pursuing this venture together so that the sense of competition between the two schools is not impacted.”
Teams will be composed of 10 players. Seven players will be on the field at a time. Each player will be required to wear a helmet and a mouthpiece, but no pads. There will be no scores kept. Coaches Coburn and Fay hope the format change will result in maximum playing time for every child involved and increase participation rates among youth sports.
Coach Fay adds, “Increasing playing time for the individual is essential at this age for the young player who can quickly find other interests outside of sports.”
Sign ups for the Little Laker and Little Raider Football teams will be held at a later date this summer. Coaches will be required to attend a training session on the format and rules. For more information on the 7 on 7 format and rules you can check out www.ils-k12.org or http://hs.benjaminlogan.org/clubs_and_organizations/athletics/Football/.
Submitted by the Indian Lake school district.