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North Pop Warner back to work

October 4, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Usually by this stage of the season, football teams in the Peace River Conference have a pretty good idea of whether they're headed for the playoffs.

However, 2017 has not been the usual season.

Hurricane Irma put a pretty good dent in the season for everybody, especially the North Fort Myers Pop Warner program, which has only been able to play three games following their final home game of the season against Fort Myers.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers Mitey-Mite Carlton Williams makes the catch during a Pop Warner football game Saturday against Fort Myers on Saturday at the North Fort Myers Community Park.

The team celebrated homecoming early in the week, with the king and their court being announced. On Saturday, the players were escorted on their field by their parents to celebrate the sacrifices they make so their children can participate.

Joy Moore, president of the North Fort Myers Junior Football Association, said there was little damage to the field, it was everything else.

"All the associations are out two games and they won't be made up. We don't have the games to place people in seats, so we have to figure out where teams are," Moore said. "We were able to practice every day last week with school out."

Irma cost the Red Knights two home games and two weeks of practice for football and cheer, meaning the regular season will consist of five games, with the final two coming on the road against Naples and Sarasota.

Once teams came back on the field on Sept. 18 after 10 days off, the teams had to basically start over, conditioning for two days before getting back to hitting for three days before resuming the season.

Varsity head coach Christopher Reeves said for his team, it's been even more difficult, since not every association has a varsity team and had to sit out last week as a result.

"We lost a couple days of practice to lightning after the break and last week missed more time due to lightning. In the last month we've technically only practiced three days," Reeves said. "Some kids have reacted better than others. There were some kids who couldn't practice because they had storm damage at their homes. We practiced with only 11 kids."

As bad as it was for the football players, it was even more inconvenient for cheer. They couldn't practice together either, and with their cheer-off coming in less than three weeks, they had a lot of work to do.

Melody Bitting, team mom for varsity cheer, said losing two home games had an impact on fundraising for competition, and the upcoming competition itself, where one 2:30 routine determines your entire season.

"As a team, we don't feel comfortable panhandling in front of Publix. We're getting ready to do a spaghetti dinner and a pancake breakfast at Applebee's," Bitting said. "Our season tends to be longer than football. We tend to continue to compete until December."

Who was happiest to be back? The players.

Brayden Bragg, 9, a Mitey-Mite football player who made a huge interception in a 12-6 Red Knight victory over the Fort Myers Lions, said it was better to be on the field than sitting home.

"It's good to be back because now I can get in shape. During the storm we didn't get to play," Bragg said. "It feels good because now I get to play again."

 
 

 

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