Eclectic bids bon voyage to River Region, join East AlabamaPublished 5:45am Sunday, August 4, 2013
After years as a member of the River Region, Eclectic is sailing into uncharted waters and has elected to join the East Alabama Youth Football and Cheerleading League.
“We started discussing this last year,” said Chris Queen, president of the Eclectic Youth Football and Cheerleading League. “Over the years, you teach your kids to be good sportsmen win or lose. But, no kid wants to be on a losing team year after year. You can’t keep the morale up.”
Last season, Eclectic struggled to fill roster slots in the Juniors (12-13 years old) and eventually joined with rival Tallassee to make it through the year.
That proved to be their last year competing in the River Region Football and Cheerleading League.
In a matter of weeks the Panthers will be handed a schedule with a lot of new faces.
“This is where I feel the kids can compete,” said Queen. “You’re only going to be able to put so many kids on a team. In the River Region, you’d have some teams with 40 or 50 kids. We can’t compete with that.”
Eclectic, Tallassee and Holtville (all 4A high schools) competed against Wetumpka, Millbrook and Prattville (all 6As) and Marbury (5A).
Their new league levels the playing field as each of the teams are essentially community-centric.
“I’ve coached in Wetumpka for 10 years,” said Queen. “Eclectic is a smaller community, and this will be a good change. We can compete instead of always coming in on the bottom.”
The East Alabama Youth Football and Cheerleading League, Eclectic and rival Tallassee’s new home, is comprised of Reeltown, Loachapoka, Wadley, Horseshoe Bend and Dadeville with Tuskegee and Alex City probably going to join in 2014.
“All of the parents are excited about this,” said Jamie Landreau, EYFCL’s Cheer Coordinator. “Everything is different, but our league this year is new all the way around.”
Both Queen and Landreau are having to adjust to league’s rules and age limits.
Football teams can only have 36 players on the roster. And gone are the days of the Midgets, Termites, Crickets and Juniors. That mantle has been replaced with simpler, more recognizable listings: Freshman (5-6 year-olds), Sophomores (7-8 year-olds), Juniors (9-10 year-olds) and Seniors (11-12 year-olds).
“There’s a lot more enthusiasm about this season,” said Queen. “And we have a lot more kids signed up to play. I’m looking at having 20 or more kids on each team.”
Game times are another thing that’s going to be different this coming season. In the River Region games started late in the afternoon on Saturdays. In the case of the Juniors, kickoffs sometimes didn’t come until well after 9 that night.
East Alabama games kick off Saturday mornings around 9:30, according to Queen.
“And they’re usually over by 12:30, one o’clock,” said Queen. “So you still have your afternoon free to do whatever.”
It’s also set-up for the kids to age into their respective communities middle school programs.
“If you want to continue playing football at age 13, you have to play in the junior high,” said Queen.
On the cheerleading side of things, it’s a little different.
“You can’t build,” said Landreau. “A lot of the older girls are a little let down because of that. And 5-year-olds can’t cheer at competition. But, they are getting to cheer at new places and there excited about it.”
The 2013 schedules will be released next week and the jamboree is set for Aug. 24.