Elementary school gridders will step to the line of scrimmage -- some for the first time -- as Gorge Youth Football League beÿgins its second season today.
Games start at 10 a.m. at Hood River Valley High School's Henÿderson Stadium. Hood River Green and Hood River Purple kick things off, followed by Hood River Blue against White Salmon Red at 11:30 a.m., and Stevenson vs. White Salmon Black at 1 p.m.
Practices started two weeks ago for the 75 Hood River players, who are in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. League coordinator Mitch Sandÿers said about two-thirds of the players participated last year.
"You can tell already that a lot of the kids have some experience. They're really playing well," he said.
"Since this is the second year, people know a little better what's expected of them (in terms of strategy) and the teamwork is better."
The league began last year as a way to teach the game and create a developmental league for the high school and middle school programs, said Sanders, who is the second-year HRVHS head footÿball coach.
He explained that the main goal for the year is safety, followed by learning the fundamentals and how the high school program works.
The coaching staffs are the same as last season, with one new addition: Mychal Lucas, a 1999 HRVHS grad, also agreed to sign on this year.
The schedule continues Aug. 18 at HRVHS, and moves to Stevenÿson Aug. 25, White Salmon Sept. 8 and Sept. 15, and concludes with the championship on Sept. 22 at HRVHS.
Rotating the venues distributes the duties of field preparation and other organizational tasks on game day, Sanders said. Admisÿsion is free, so bring the family for a day of summer youth football.