One might guess it’s just another scrimmage, a chance for the players to get better.
Those who watched crowds of fans flock to see local youth teams face off in six scrimmages know different.
Patterson Ravens junior novice coach Frank Urrutia said the gathering — named after Ryan “Munchie” Taylor, the youngest certified coach in the history of the TVYFL, who died in a 2004 motorcycle accident at age 18 — is a special way to start the season.
"This event gives our coaches an opportunity to evaluate the kids within our own squad, and also gives players an opportunity to compete with other squads that aren't in their division," Urrutia said. "My main concern was making sure the boys could execute at their positions and that they could protect themselves."
Seven teams — including the fifth-year Ravens — participated in the preseason scrimmages, representing the TVYFL’s four divisions.
The scrimmages consisted of 30-minute intervals for each team from each division. A total of 15 minutes was spent for each offense and 15 minutes for each defense.
All divisions were represented as tackle football, including junior novice (ages 6 through 8), novice (9 and 10), junior varsity (11 and 12) and varsity (12 through 14).
Ravens program representative Joe Powers said some of his peers tried to treat the scrimmages as another practice. But in some ways, they couldn’t.
"These scrimmages let both the players and coaches know what needs to be improved upon and how we compare to other teams," Powers said. "We're teaching kids the basic fundamentals of the game. Without those, it's impossible to move to more advanced items."
It’s also one of the first times the young athletes get to hit somebody who isn’t wearing the same color jersey. Urrutia said it can feel a lot less like a practice than a regular game.
"The excitement level was off the charts for many kids. The returning players knew what they were in for and acted as leaders for the new players taking the field," Urrutia said. "I knew my boys were ready to perform, however, it is my duty to make sure each child is safe and enjoying the experience."
Urrutia said he and his coaching staff — Jason Addington, Jerry Arredondo, Eric Garcia and Johnny Guardo — plugged lots of different players into different positions, letting some inexperienced kids get a feel for the game.
"At this level, our goals are pretty simple," Urrutia said. "We are looking to make leaders of these boys, and make sure they become distinguished citizens in our community."
The Ravens begin their season Saturday, Aug. 17, against the Salida Steelers at Patterson Community Stadium, North Salado and Ward avenues. The first game kicks off at 1 p.m.
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