Who can play?

The N.E. Commonwealth Youth Football & Cheer is an all-inclusive football and cheer league. Everybody within the grade/age limits for each division is eligible. The philosophy behind this is that in many other leagues, “bigger” boys who do not meet weight limits are excluded. Melrose Youth Football and Cheer and the league believe that there are ways to create opportunities for all age and grade eligible players to play. Football is often times a great athletic avenue for all children, but especially boys who have grown early or are just big kids.

Here is a breakdown of the team levels:

Grades 1 & 2 – TRAVEL Flag football and Cheer
Age protected at 8. Cannot turn 9 prior to 12/31/20

Grades 3 & 4 –Tackle football and cheer
Age protected at 10. Cannot turn 11 prior to 12/31/20

Grades 5 & 6 – Tackle football and cheer
Age protected at 12. Cannot turn 13 prior to 12/31/20

Grades 7 & 8 – Tackle football and cheer
Age protected at 14. Cannot turn 15 prior to 12/31/20

Simple so far….

One of the common questions is along the lines of “my son is a smaller boy, will he face larger players?” The answer is both yes and no.

One of the rules of the league is that players will be assigned positions by the respective team coaches, and wear the numbers associated with the position. For example, offensive linemen will wear numbers in the 60‘s. These players are not eligible to play other positions on the field. For example, #63 is the biggest player on the team. He CANNOT come into a play and run the ball. It’s an illegal play and is part of how the games are called by referees in the league.

The idea here is to put players in positions they are well suited for and to create good competition. That being said, is it possible for a smaller player to be involved during the course of a play with a larger player?  Of course. It’s impossible to prevent. A reasonable amount of care is taken to line players up directly against fairly even competition. On most downs, linemen play lineman, linebackers play tight ends, corners and safety’s take on running backs and wide receivers.

This arrangement as described, open to weight but restricted grade, does have two advantages to the aspiring player. First, for the smaller players, it creates a more realistic game situation and atmosphere. Almost every local high school has linemen at the 250-300lb range on the field. Coming from a weight protected league and into competitive high school football, the player who has not learned to conduct themselves against players of different sizes and speeds is at a distinct disadvantage. It is very common and in fact part of the game for smaller players to learn the correct techniques for handling themselves against larger players. This will happen as a matter of course in this league and on our teams.

Second, for the larger boys, they are at a distinct disadvantage walking onto the high school football field for the first time in the 9th grade. Football, like any other sport, takes years of experience to develop into a knowledgeable, capable athlete. There is an enormous amount of knowledge required to succeed in the game, and our program and the league we play in will give these aspiring players the experience necessary to compete at the high school level.