VYF a hit with kids

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 10, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Oh, what a difference a year has made for the Rives insurance Cowboys of the Vidalia Youth Football League.

Last year, the Cowboys finished 1-6. But this year, the team has reversed its fortunes, achieving a 6-1 record and have had a blast doing it.

Coach Jamie Keating said that the team&8217;s attitude has made all the difference between this year and last year&8217;s team.

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&8220;This is the best group of kids that you could ever have hoped to work with,&8221; Keating said. &8220;They come ready to play and so long as they&8217;re getting to hitting, they&8217;re happy.&8221;

Winning and hitting are two things that have been contagious for the team this season, according to players.

&8220;I just like to hit and juke people,&8221; 11-year-old Dylan Price said. &8220;The coaches have taught me a lot. I love to make the hits, but scoring a touchdown is right up there too.&8221;

Price isn&8217;t the only one of his teammates who enjoys contact. Eleven-year-old Michael Whitley, who plays tailback and linebacker, said he too loves the physical nature of football.

&8220;I love to hit people on defense and run over them on offense,&8221; Whitley said. &8220;I enjoy coming out and playing with my friends.&8221;

The players are so into playing that they all can recall personal highlights from the season.

&8220;I hit the center so hard the ball popped out and I recovered the fumble,&8221; 11-year-old Dillon Gautreau said. &8220;I&8217;m going to play all the way up to the NFL.&8221;

While the contact may be what the players enjoy the most, coaches and parents said that they love what the game is teaching their kids.

Gwendolyn Dent said she never really cared much about football until her son started playing, but now that he has she has a hard time staying away from it.

&8220;For one thing, (Jeremiah) learned a lot about sportsmanship,&8221; Dent said. &8220;I really enjoy it. I didn&8217;t know much about football before, but I haven&8217;t missed a practice yet. My son tells me I could just drop him off, but I tell him no, I&8217;d rather stay and watch.&8221;

Hans Heilg says his son Adam is learning a lot of life skills through football.

&8220;The thing that has impressed me most is the leadership he&8217;s showing,&8221; Heilig said. &8220;He&8217;s having fun and you can tell this is his sport. The kids around here don&8217;t have anything else to do and this keeps them out of trouble, and provides them with some exercise.&8221;

The Cowboys will play their final game of the season Saturday against the Ferriday Saints at 10 a.m. in the 12-and-under Vidalia Youth Football League Superbowl.