Saturday, October 29, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.
Wins were rare this season for the Guyasuta youth football organization, but enjoying and learning the game proved to be a positive experience.
One example was the flag football program, known as “Little Hawks”. The team serves as a supply system for the Tomahawks team which plays conventional football in the Allegheny Valley Youth League.
Mike Lemon returned to the Guyasuta coaching ranks this season for the flag team and saw his players improve from day one to the end of the season.
“Our first game, we lost 42-6,” Lemon said. “But at the end of the season we were winning games, for example, 41-34 and the last game we lost, 13-12.”
Lemon, with four kids ages 4 to 8, had the three oldest on the cheerleading squad and wanted to get back into practice.
“Our league is a little different than most flag leagues,” Lemon said. “We have 11 from 11, like in tackle football. Usually, flag teams are 7-on-7 with three offensive linemen and four running backs.
Some do double duty, also playing for the Tomahawks in the 8-and-under group.
Medical professionals and a number of parents have supported the idea of flag football for those new to the sport to prevent head injuries.
“We want to keep them all safe and learn the game,” Lemon said. “We focus on one-on-one football. Players who learn to hold their heads up high can prioritize child safety.
Players wear a plastic belt with a flag attached. Instead of tackling, the opponent pulls the flagstick from the ball carrier’s waistband, ending the game.
An offensive streak starts at the 40-yard line, a team needs 20 yards to get a first down. Plays accumulating 40 yards in eight plays equal a touchdown.
The 10-and-under Braves squad had serious numbers issues and had dropped to 11 players at one point during a winless season. The oldest team, the 12-and-under Warriors, was 3-5 this season.
Guyasuta played their home matches at Shady Side Academy’s Michael J. Farrell Stadium
After the age of 12, players then move on to the Dorseyville Middle School program.
Association president Barb McBriar said the players took advantage of a pizza night at the end of the season to end things on an optimistic note.