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New Red Fox youth league kicks off this weekend

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Apr 7, 2021

Jaxon Clouse of the 14U football program works on a drill during football practice for the Red Fox Athletics program at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center on Tuesday. CHUCK BALLARO


North Fort Myers Red Fox football’s season begins Saturday.

Five teams have been practicing since March 22.

Red Fox Athletics is a non-profit organization that provides academic and athletic opportunities to people in the local community, said President Steve Brown.

“We offer no-cost tutoring, educational counseling, help kids with their homework and SAT and ACT prep,” Brown said. “We also partner with Pop Warner to run a spring football season and cheer camps.”

Red Fox football is in its third year, having played in 2019. COVID scrubbed the 2020 season. It is not affiliated with Pop Warner, however, it does lease its equipment and uses the same fields and coaches, Brown said.

It also is formatted similar to Pop Warner, with 6U, 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U teams.

The season, which will run until May 8, will be a little more laid back than the Pop Warner season. The league is more instructional based than competitive, which means more kids who have never played before are on the field.

“Because there isn’t a rush to play competitive games, it’s more an atmosphere of learning, so kids who have never played before to see what it’s like to be on a football field,” Brown said.

Coach for the 10U team, Tristan Anderson, said spring football is more about the basics and helping new kids learn the game of football.

“You’re just learning skills. That’s what spring is all about. The kids are doing good. They have the knowledge in football and are willing to learn,” Anderson said. “As long as they’re willing to learn, we’ll come together as a team.”

The season is between five and seven games, with no playoffs. The games are faster, with four 10-minute quarters with a running clock. Games take about an hour, rather than two hours for a Pop Warner game.

Participation in spring football can be an accurate forecast for participation in the fall, and following a very successful 2020, with three Peace River Championships and a deep run in the playoffs, those numbers are looking up.

“We are sitting at 120 football players, which is only 20 shy of what we had in the fall,” Brown said. “Cheer is sitting at 90 cheerleaders, which is actually more than what we had in the fall.”

The 10U, 12U and 14U teams are full while 6U is flirting with the minimum, with many children at that age choosing T-ball.

Brown added that people have grown tired of sitting in the house during the pandemic and wanted to do something.

Cheer is associated with Pop Warner, which has a year-round program, and the teams will be in competition at least once during the season, probably in May.

Last year, cheer had a national runner-up and a regional championship.

“We try not to redo everything in the spring. It’s more about team building, so we’re better in the fall,” said Kari Hardwick, cheer coach. “The kids are amazing. They always look amazing, but they impress us more every year.”