By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG Since Aug. 3, the coaches and players of Fallsburg Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading have been working hard for the upcoming season.
They have been practicing four evenings a week at Morningside Park to prepare for the opening of the season on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The sixth season of Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading in Fallsburg is here, but the number of participants is declining.
During the 2006 season, the organization had three teams Junior Midget, Junior Pee Wee and Mitey-Mite. The Junior Midget team included players ages 10, 11 and 12 who weighed between 85 and 135 pounds and 13-year-olds who weighed between 85 and 115 pounds. The Junior Pee Wee team consisted of players ages 8, 9 and 10 who weighed 60 to 105 pounds and 11-year-olds who weighed between 60 and 85 pounds. The Mitey-Mite team was for players ages 7,8 and 9 who weighed between 45 and 90 pounds.
But this year, the organization will be sending only a Mitey-Mite team onto the gridiron to play teams from across the Hudson Valley. Those opposing teams hail from places like Kingston, Millbrook, Newburgh, New Paltz and Poughkeepsie.
“We feel like we have a great program here,” Fallsburg Pop Warner Football Commissioner Les Jackson said. “Anyone that has ever played this game will tell you there is something about football that bonds teammates like no other. It teaches you so many things that cannot only be applied to the game, but to life itself.”
Jackson and Fallsburg Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading President Lewis Borko are frustrated, however. Both Borko and Jackson feel that Fallsburg Pop Warner is an exceptional program which has much to offer for kids in their community and the men are puzzled and disappointed by the fact that not many of the boys and girls in their town participate in the program.
“Our program is open to any child in the county and we have had and still have kids from surrounding towns in our program,” Borko said. “For the program to really flourish and reach its full potential, we need more of our local kids to come be a part of it. I know that some of our neighboring towns have started their own programs over the last couple of years and that has hurt our number of participants in the program, but we need more boys and girls from our own school district to come be a part of this.”
Both men acknowledge that only two boys from last year’s Fallsburg sixth-grade class who will be a part of this autumn’s Fallsburg Central School modified football team played on last year’s Mitey-Mite team. One of the program’s goals is to be a feeder program for the school’s football team.
“It’s hard to be a feeder program for the school with so little local participation,” Borko said.
Pop Warner is a nationally recognized football and cheerleading program. It offers local, regional and even national competition for both football and cheerleading teams.
The Fallsburg program has had its share of success during its first five years. The cheerleading program won Mid-Hudson Conference competitions and went on to regionals in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The football program has sent a team to the Redman Bowl in Syracuse to play teams from other areas of the state and a team from Pennsylvania.
“Our kids lost a 15-13 heartbreaker in Syracuse last year, but we did bring home the winner’s trophy in 2006,” Jackson said. “We also had our 2007 team play for the Mid-Hudson Conference, which covers teams from all over the Hudson Valley, Small Town Division championship in 2007. So, you can see both the cheerleaders and football players have experienced some very memorable moments in our program.”
Borko and Jackson firmly believe that for any program like this to work, it needs people who are willing to volunteer to coach and do the other things behind the scenes.
“We definitely have some coaches who give freely of their time and work very hard for the kids,” Borko said. “Our Cheerleading Commissioner and Co-Head Coach is Kiffanie Rodgers and her Co-Head Coach Keri Whitehead and their Assistant Coaches Angie Williams and Laura Sheiner do a great job with our girls. The football coaching staff, headed by Chris Marler and assisted by Chris Krumack, George Steigler and Scott Whitehead, do an outstanding job with our football team as well. We’re very lucky to have these very dedicated people.”
Marler noted that he has 20 players on the Mitey-Mite team. Half of those players are from Fallsburg, while the other half attend school in other districts, including Monticello and Tri-Valley.
“We would like to have a few more,” Marler said. “An ideal number of players would be 24 to 27. The absolute minimum of players you need is 16.
“Each kid gets to play,” he added. “Every player gets in the game for a minimum number of plays. This season every kid will be on the field for at least 16 plays, so they will be in for about three series each game.”
Just like area high school football players, the Fallsburg Pop Warner Mitey-Mite players have been working on skills like blocking and tackling, learning the snap counts and what play names mean and doing conditioning exercises.
“We are getting the kids in shape,” Marler said. “We have a lot of good players here.”
The members of the Fallsburg Pop Warner Mitey-Mite football team are Cecil Brownridge, Rahmel Brownridge, Cano Camilo, Brian Decker, Destiny Decker, Juan Dendariarena Jr., Geselle Dendariarena, Joshua Hernandez, Patrick Krumack, Christopher Lee, Zacheriah McCombs, Christopher Marler, Gohan Norford, Sean Pettway, Steven Seastrand, Xavier Staten, Joseph Steigler, Ashton Strang, Mark Stubble and Terrence Thomas Jr.
The members of the Fallsburg Pop Warner cheerleading team are Courtney Conklin, Kaitlyn Cross, Kayla Damms, Katlyn DuBose, Sarah Kaye, Megan Langland, Cheyenne LaPolt, Taylor Leszynski, Ashlyn Nardi, Sorrina Negru, Elizabeth Newell, Tiara Payton, Mekayla Perneszi, Brenda Reinshagen, Kali Seastrand, Olivia Steigler, Natalya Washington and Jazmine Williams.
Anyone still interested in joining this year’s Fallsburg Pop Warner football or cheerleading teams should call Borko at 866-0764.