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On Aug. 14 approximately 350 football players and cheerleaders got their first taste of football for 2015 at the Big Cat Jamboree held at Milton High School’s Haywood Hannah Stadium.
Boys and girls from ages 5-14 donned the Black and Gold colors associated with the Milton Parks Department to play organized sports.
For the Panthers, they got to play in a controlled scrimmage setting against the East Milton Jaguars prior to Milton High School taking the field for their Black and Gold scrimmage.
“It was a nice evening to line up across some different faces and jerseys than we have been in practice,” said Milton Parks Director John Norton. “This gave our kids a chance to see what it will feel like in an actual game and give the coaches a better idea of the talent we have in our program.”
On Aug. 29, they will begin play as new members of the Northwest Florida Youth Sports Alliance (NWFYSA), which is accredited with the USA Heads Up football initiated by the National Football League.
Having the task of finding the coaches and equipment for these young people has not been an easy task for Norton, but it is one he thoroughly enjoys.
“Nationally the trend regarding football has seen registrations declining, but that isn’t the case with the Milton youth program,” Norton said. “We have been blessed to see our numbers steadily increase year after year.
“I feel this is a positive testament on our coaches, staff, and the program overall.”
During the season Milton will compete against teams from Perdido, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Bellview, Cantonment, East Milton, Salvation Army (Pensacola), and Pace.
This year the Milton teams will play football in specific age divisions for the first time – U6 (Mighty Mites); U7 (Mini Mite Black); U8 (Mini Mite Gold); U9 (Mite Black); U10 (Mite Gold); U11 (Midget Black); U12 (Midget Gold); and U14 (Juniors).
By grouping players this way Norton along with the NWFYSA hope to help players develop and play against players their own age and relative size.
“In the past we would group players together in two year increments, but we went this way in an effort to develop players of the same age and skill set,” Norton said. “By grouping players based on age, we are trying to develop as many players as possible and for them to receive as much playing time as possible as well.”
Milton will play home games on Aug. 29 to start the season against Navarre, as well as Sept. 19 (East Milton) Oct. 10 (Pace), and Oct. 24 against Perdido.
Games at the Milton SportsPlex, 5629 Byrom St. in Milton, will get underway as early as 8 a.m. with the final game starting at 6 p.m.
“We invite everyone to come out and enjoy watching these young men and women,” Norton said. “Admission is free and this can offer you a sneak peek at some of the future stars you can see on Friday night’s just south on Byrom St. when they play for Milton High School.”
Don’t forget to check out our website for information regarding all city sports and activities at www.ci.milton.fl.us or contact the Guy Thompson Community Center at 983-5466.