High school football is back across the country which means youth football is back too. Delran Township has found a new way of celebrating its youth football scene in collaboration with the high school varsity team.
On Friday, Sept. 19 players in the Delran Athletic Association youth football program were encouraged to come to Delran’s game against Willingboro and welcome the varsity team onto the field.
This new tradition goes back a half-decade or so, where players will line the field where the Bears come out just before kickoff to be recognized and to interact with the high school players.
“We go out there and they announce each team and the ids form a tunnel for the high school kids and they love it,” Delran AA football commissioner Tony Wespi said. “They wear their jerseys out and they enjoy it.”
This has always been done in September and for the past few seasons, it’s lined up perfectly with the start of the youth football season in Delran.
Youth football in Delran starts out with the 75-pound class and goes up from there to middle school football, seventh and eighth graders where there is no pound restriction.
In total, there are five teams that Delran fields during the youth football season, all coached separately.
“Our five head coaches of our teams are tremendous,” Wespi said. “All are great head coaches and are great with the kids.”
Many current Delran High School players have come up through the ranks of the youth football system and know the importance of it for the township.
Recently, the youth program was dwindling in numbers and dropping in interest from the community, but recent developments, like better marketing and advertising, better coaches and a more vested interest in the game have spurred more interest in the community.
Also, having new uniforms with individual name plates was something that lit up the eyes of many local kids. Students have stayed with the game and had the potential to compete past the youth ranks and into high school.
“My one son, he actually went to another town because of what was happening in Delran,” said Delran resident Juli Rush. “Now, I think it’s getting a lot better. Now, high school varsity players are getting involved, helping to coach. The kids have people to look up to.”