Newton (NJ) Braves "Varsity" (8th grade) 2022
Sorry I've gotten behind like last year reporting here on our progress. This season we have a few players who played up last year -- formally the same "varsity" team I coached on in 2021 -- but mostly players new to football; one just walked on this past week and was allowed to join. It's an unusual age to be beginning organized tackle football; most either wait another year (in some cases because of weight limits) and start in high school, or start several years younger. Therefore in the Morris County Youth Football League we're playing against much more experienced teams in the National Hills Conference, and it shows in our record.
We opened with a 6-14 loss at the Jefferson Falcons, in which we were competitive until practically the end.
We then lost 0-29 at home to Denville, a very deep team currently tied for the conference lead.
Last week we lost 0-27 at Florham Park-East Hanover. We completely stuffed their running game, but they scored on long passes to the same receiver 3 times. Their other touchdown was a pick 6 late in the game when our fullback, who'd been pitched the ball, attempted the same safety valve pass that he'd nearly had picked off in the first half, although a receiver was open deep. What bothers me the most is our losing the ball twice when they kicked off slow bouncing balls to the same player in our front line. Our halfback went down early in the second half with a suspected concussion.
Today we're at home against the Madison Dodgers, traditionally a tough opponent. Our halfback is back, but meanwhile we shuffled the backfield positions in anticipation of his being out.
The one thing I've been working on the most is getting our rookie tackles to step forward instead of standing up or, worse, stepping backward. Haven't gotten there so far, probably won't until high school if they play there.
Our head coach seems always to be a step ahead of me. A few weeks ago after we hadn't practiced punt formation, I suggested that we could do it simply by pitching out to our fullback. In the game I saw us do it twice -- though I'd never seen it in practice! HC Adam said, "It's easy when the fullback's your son and the rest of the team doesn't have to learn the play." As far as the rest of the team knew, it was just our quick pitch play. Did it the next week against Florham Park too.
Sorry I got behind again, thought I'd record this here before it closes. As you can't see at Braves V - Team Results (sportssignup.com) , because nobody posted the scores, we finished our season a week ago at 1-7, our only win being against a Hackettstown squad that could barely field a team. All season we were vulnerable to long pass completions, some of them seemingly by magic as the pass threaded a needle against a seemingly well covered receiver from a passer in a great rush, and though we moved the ball on offense we didn't have that scoring punch. In one loss the scores we gave up were on a desperation throw by a QB who was going down and heaved a lateral to a receiver who hadn't gone downfield but had the sideline to himself, and a high snap on a field goal attempt (by a kicker who could really kick them) that bounced off the holder's hands to the kicker who ran it in around end.
It was that kind of season. We hadn't expected much given that we had a team of mostly rookies playing in a league of mostly experienced players, and we had...situations. Like when one of our good players was pulled off the team by his mother and showed up at a few practices without her knowledge. Or when another got hurt (not badly, but enough to be kept from playing) in a car crash as his father drove him away from our last practice. However, there was only one game that I could say we were blown out of.
I have to think about whether to coach with this team next year when we'll have returning players from 7th grade, or to go down a few levels. The MCYFL dumbs down the game too much to interest me in coaching in some of the lowest tackle levels that I'd be interested in otherwise.
Like when one of our good players was pulled off the team by his mother and showed up at a few practices without her knowledge.
He and I met by chance at Dollar General today. I asked him whether he'd worked things out with her yet; they hadn't.