Young adults first, players second

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 13, 2004

As the Tuesday morning sun started to set over the woods behind Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Nansemond-Suffolk Pop Warner coach Ken Davis told his team of Mighty Mites what to expect from opposing offenses when the season kicks off over Labor Day weekend.

&uot;The teams will do things to trick you,&uot; Davis said, using a marker to diagram the plays on a white dry-erase board. &uot;They’ll make you overpursue, which happens when you come in to the quarterback and he flicks the ball back to the running back, who will have the whole field to dance on. We want to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, because if we do that, we’ll control the game. Any questions?&uot;

The team only had one answer, and it came out in unified high volume: &uot;NO SIR!&uot;


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That’s what coaches like to hear, and it’s what sets the Saints apart from most youth football teams. &uot;What they’re teaching out here builds these kids into young men,&uot; said Junior Pee-Wee coach Bobby Thomas. &uot;Player to player or player to coach, it’s always ‘Yes sir!’ and ‘No sir!’ It’s something they do to make this league special.&uot;

The methods are paying off; after its inception two years ago, the Saints grew from one team to two in 2003, then to a whopping five for this season. Along with the Junior Pee-Wee and Pee-Wee teams of last year, there’s now Flag, Mighty Mite and Junior Midget Saint squads to carry on the league tradition of ‘Pride, Respect, Love and Togetherness.’

&uot;Each team’s got four or five coaches instead of one or two trying to do everything,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;The kids can get individualized attention.&uot;

In his rookie year as a Saint, Tyler Ramirez hopes to give opposing running backs some personal attention of his own. &uot;I like crushing people!&uot; the NSA student said with a grin. &uot;I hope I can play for the NSA varsity team someday!&uot;

On the other side of the ball, Mike Lepore will be attempting to avoid the crushers. &uot;I’m going to go around the outside,&uot; said the eight-year-old, &uot;and if a tackler comes at me, I’m going to stiff-arm him in the chest.&uot;

After helping the Pee-Wee team to a 6-2 record last season, Dion Quick wants to help the squad to its own Big Game this time around. &uot;We had fun last year, and I think we’ve got a chance to go undefeated, or maybe lose just one,&uot; he said. Pop Warner championship games are played in Orlando, Florida, and Bennett’s Creek, also of Suffolk, has sent a team the past three seasons.