The Lakeland Union High School football team has been giving back to the community and impacting the future generation of football players in their school district.
The athletes coach first, second, third and fourth graders in flag football on Saturday mornings. The league started on September 7th and will conclude on October 12th. They will be taking the next two Saturday’s off.
“It creates a great entry point for players that don’t want to play Pop Warner and don’t want to start with tackle football,” said Lakeland Union Head Coach Dan Barutha.
“It’s just getting them introduced to the program and getting that connection going, so hopefully down the road they do play high school football and enjoy it like I do,” said Zach Hayes, Lakeland Union cornerback/wide receiver.
A lot of the student coaches were in the league when they were younger.
“This is why I coach it because I remember having a blast out here when I was younger and really enjoying it,” Hayes said. “That’s what kick-started my football career, I guess, because I enjoyed it so much I wanted to keep doing it.”
Some of the plays the kids run on Saturday mornings might look familiar.
“We use some of our plays and even our opponents plays,” said Lakeland Union Gaurd David Bock. “Just some things that we’ve learned over the years to make our team successful.”
The main focus for this league is to impact the kids in the community.
“I think it has a big impact no questions about it,” Barutha said. “You look at the fact that they have a relationship and then they go in the stands and watch them play Friday nights for homecoming or a big rivalry game or whatever it is. The fact that they can say, ‘hey, that guy is my flag football coach,’ is really neat.”
The winning head coach will receive the Jim Bauer trophy, which was named after a longtime head coach at Lakeland Union. He unfortunately passed away a couple weeks ago.