ROTTERDAM — Mohonasen varsity football coach Scott Sabourin is always looking for ways to better his Mighty Warriors and the high school's lower level teams.
Joining the Capital District Youth Football League he believes will do that.
"It's going to help create a more unified school program," said Sabourin, the Mohon Youth Football president.
The league that was established in 2012 and is backed by area high school coaches groups players by classroom grade rather than age, and has a junior tackle division for those entering third and fourth grade, and a senior tackle division for those entering fifth and sixth grade.
High school football begins at the modified level for seventh and eighth-graders.
"The jump to modified will be an easier transition," Sabourin said. "It's a natural segue into school ball."
Sabourin said Mohon's teams, like others in the CDYFL, will use the same practice techniques same terminology and plays as the high school team does. CDYFL teams draw the majority of their players from the school districts in which they reside.
"They'll be playing together as a unit all the way through," Sabourin said. "They can develop chemistry. They can develop cohesiveness and comaraderie. Can you imagine a quarterback and a wide receiver working together for all of those years?"
Lou Magliocca can. That was among the reasons the Broadalbin Youth Commission's director had Little Patriots Football become one of the CDYFL's first members.
"Any time you have kids connect, it's a great thing," Magliocca said. "My job is ultimately to prepare them for [Broadalbin-Perth varsity football coach] Jim Pelneau. They can develop teamwork, friendships, cohesiveness. That's invaluable."
The idea of the same cast of linemen repeatedly working together, and no weight restrictions in the CDYFL, was particularly to Sabourin's liking.
"The league did not want to exclude heavier kids," Sabourin said. "This league allows for that, and I think it's an important ingredient. Those kids make up the core of a football team. This is a critical point in their development."
There are restrictions for positions based on weight, though. For junior tackle, all players more than 100 pounds must play on the offensive and defensive line. Senior tackle players more than 140 pounds must also play on the offensive and defensive line. These rules were created for safety and fairness.
"We wanted to get bigger kids out on the field," said Schalmont varsity football coach Joe Whipple, founder and president of the CDYFL and Schalmont Sabres Youth Football.
Pop Warner Football has weight restrictions for its participants.
"Pop Warner has always done a great job, and will continue to do a great job," Sabourin said. "Everyone involved in youth football does it to benefit kids. This league [CDYFL] is an alternative."
CDYFL rosters are kept small in size so players can receive personalized instruction and see plenty of game action. Some programs field more than one team in a division for those purposes.
"We really want every kid to play and be coached," Sabourin said.
Whipple said teams average between 19 and 22 players.
"All kids start on one side or another, and all kids must play a minimum of a half," Whipple said.
Sabourin noted that there are no playoffs in the CDYFL.
"That's part of the league's concept," Sabourin said of the non-playoff schedule. "We don't want anybody worrying about all that. We want to teach them fundamentals of football and we want the kids to have a good time while competing."
The CDYFL has grown to include teams from the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, South Colonie, Ballston Spa, Columbia, Niskayuna and Scotia-Glenville school districts.
"We're constantly in touch with the directors," Whipple said. "There's not one team that has not had a good experience."
"It's been a home run for us," Magliocca said. "I think soon we'll be seeing an impact on our varsity team. I wouldn't be surprised if we go on a good run."
Mohon Youth Football will have meet the coaches nights and hold player registration this Thursday and July 28 at Mohonasen High School. The head coaches are Dan Lucca (senior tackle) and Graham MacBeth (junior tackle). Sabourin said 35 players have already signed up.
"A lot of our players have gone through the program," Whipple said. "You see the difference, no doubt."