JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — Youth football will look different in Burnet and Llano counties when the season begins Aug. 27 for the Hill Country Youth Football League.
Practices officially began Aug. 1.
The league, which features players from kindergarten through sixth grade, includes teams representing Burnet, Llano, Kingsland, Marble Falls and the surrounding area.
But because Mid-Tex Youth Football League disbanded earlier this year, other city youth leagues were looking for a new league to join.
That’s how HCYFL added Smithson Valley and Kerrville. Those two, along with Burnet, Marble Falls, Lampasas, Liberty Hill, Fredericksburg and Canyon Lake, will play in Division I.
Division II will be Llano, Kingsland, Johnson City, Mason, San Saba, Lago Vista, Brady, Blanco, Goldthwaite and Comfort.
HCYFL divided teams based off of University Interscholastic League’s classifications for each city’s high school.
So the city’s with the larger enrollments went to Division I, while the smaller enrollments formed Division II.
In Division I, the playoffs are structured so there’s a big school and small school separation.
That means Marble Falls, Kerrville and Smithson Valley will play in the big school category, while Burnet, Canyon Lake, Liberty Hill, Lampasas and Fredericksburg will play in the small school category.
In addition, most of these leagues had enough fifth- and sixth-graders to form two separate teams, so each can win a league championship this year. Marble Falls will have only one junior varsity team for the third- and fourth-graders, while the other leagues will have a third-grade squad and a fourth-grade team. There’s only one team from each city for kindergarten through second grade.
Division II will only have one championship in each age group because the presidents of those city’s youth leagues didn’t want to have a team play in each grade.
The championship games will be played Oct. 29, so families can get ready for other youth sports, attend high school playoff games or other activities, HCYFL commissioner Shawn Lapuszynski said.
“They play just enough for the love of the game, and we’ll leave them hungry for more,” he said.
Quarters have been shortened to seven minutes instead of 10 regardless of age because that’s what was recommended by the athletic directors at the various high schools in each of the cities, Lapuszynski said.
But those moves weren’t the biggest accomplishment in the offseason for the commissioner. He said all Burnet youth are playing under the Burnet Youth Football League instead of having two youth leagues in that city.
“I think they registered over a hundred kids,” he said. “We were shocked. That’s a lot of good competition. They knew I was wanting it to happen. Without question it was the best thing for the kids in Burnet. They can compete together.”
Each coach is required to get certified through USA Football’s Heads Up program that teaches proper technique for every aspect of the sport as well as health-related questions such as what to look for in instances of concussions, dehydration and cardiac-related issues and the proper way to fit equipment.
Middle school, junior high and high school coaches are welcome to attend any game free of charge with a valid school identification.
Go to hillcountryyfl.com for more information.