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North teams host Pop Warner Jamboree

August 23, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

After spending three weeks practicing against each other, five area Pop Warner programs gathered at the North Fort Myers Community Park this past weekend to finally do some blocking, running and tackling against real competition.

Teams from North Fort Myers, Cape Jr., Cape Youth, Charlotte and Port Charlotte gathered for their annual preseason jamboree, which serves as their final tune-up before the start to games that mean something this coming Saturday.

The junior pee wees, pee wees, JV and varsity teams played Saturday, while the tiny mites and mitey mites played Sunday in Punta Gorda.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers running back Keon Gordon makes a cut on a Cape Jr. defender during the jamboree at North Fort Myers Community Park on Saturday.

CHUCK BALLARO

Just about every parking space was filled by the 9 a.m. kickoff and stayed filled until after noon, when the younger groups finished their set of games. Despite the long lines for food and the heat, everything went reasonably well. North is used to this, having hosted playoff games many times in the past.

Teams occupied both fields to play two short games, divided into two 10-minute halves with a running clock against different opponents.

If things went wrong, the coaches had the satisfaction of knowing this would be their only mulligan. If it's to happen let it happen here.

In the end, the mantra for all teams were basically the same, "We played well, but we have a lot of work to do."

"We played really well, but we found things we really need to focus on. The little things are what we need to master and that's what we need to work on before the opening game," said North pee wee coach Todd Sheridan.

Sheridan's team certainly set the right tone for the start of its season as it easily downed Cape Jr. in the second of its two games. Sheridan said that's among the things that makes the jamboree so important.

"We make sure all the kids get a lot of playing time. We're filming the game, so it gives us a chance to critique the kids and see them against a real opponent," Sheridan said.

To be in the jamboree, teams had to first practice 10 hours without pads, then 10 more hours in pads. Last year's jamboree was delayed an entire week because only two programs (Port Charlotte and Cape Youth) had put in the required time due to lightning delays and cancellations. They held a scrimmage in the mud instead.

This season there was no such problem, with all teams able to get the minimum requirements in without much difficulty.

The biggest adjustment comes to the junior pee wees, who have played with a coach on the field in the "mite" divisions. Without a coach to assist, many players looked lost, especially for one opposing coach.

"We don't have a player who has that experience and many of the teams here do. It's a big adjustment and the kids don't have confidence in themselves," said Chris Dodge, junior pee wee coach for Charlotte.

North Fort Myers opens its season Saturday.

 
 

 

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