EAST HANOVER, NJ - When the discussion about football in an unlimited weight league among eighth graders, Coaches Odysseas Delaportas and Jeff Eisele of Jefferson decided to take action. American Youth Football, a non-profit football and cheer program bearing the logo, "non intrusive all inclusive seemed like a perfect fit.
Delaportas and Eisele liked what they found. A program that required coaches to have prior experience, that offered clinics and preseason training built in to the program, a high level of competition and a home field at Morris Catholic High School. The Morris County Crusaders were created. January 2016 winter clinic was a perfect opportunity to get started. The team was made up of players from Morris, Essex and Sussex counties and the coaches saw potential for a team better than they expected.
When the first scrimmage for the Crusaders turned out to be against the champion Hunterdon Huskies, they took the field and the game, winning 69-7. Delaportas said "unrestricted weight is a totally different ball game" where the players have, "more confidence, better experience and more equal opportunities." The practices were weekly, and focused on skills and drills.
The Crusaders seven teams as the season progressed. They grew tougher and more together as a team. Finishing with a 5-2 record earned them a division champ title, featuring a big upset over league leader and ranked third in New Jersey, Montclair. A total of six players from the Crusaders made the FBU team.
Quentin Lane, an eighth grader from Ridgedale School in Florham Park said "the competition was great and so was the exposure." The team faced other teams from Jersey City, Paterson, Montclair, Somerville, Rahway, East Orange and Orange.
Quarterback Peter Delaportas said the competition was great and he learned he was "not the fastest kid on the field anymore."
With an inaugural season so strong, the anticipation for the future can only be stronger. March will begin early sign-ups on line and commence a spring seven on seven, skills based league. For more information click here.