Continuing a 40-plus-year tradition of and in the Upper Kanawha Valley, the Eastern Kanawha Cougars program is offering youth football and cheer opportunities for youngsters ages 5 to 10 again in 2019.
This year’s Cougar squad will be distinguished as a consolidation of former rivals into one gridiron unit, the program’s president, John Ellis, said last week.
“A lot has happened in the past couple of years,” the Campbells Creek resident said. “We used to have the Marmet Miners, the Belle Bullodgs, the Cedar Grove Trailblazers and other teams, but with the the number of kids we now have in the valley, we combined all of the teams together and made it one team.
“We keep the Cougars name; the Campbells Creek Cougars have been a franchise for almost 45 years.
“We bundled everybody up, and we’re trying to find a centralized location for practice,” Ellis said. “We go all the way to Kanawha City up to Valley and beyond, all of the feeder scores for Riverside — all kids are eligible to play.”
The Cougars’ football and cheer squads entail “B” teams of ages 5 and 6, “C” teams of ages 7 and 8 and “D” teams of ages 9 and 10.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have an ‘A’ team since they changed the rules in Kanawha County, but we’d love to have one if we could get the players,” Ellis said.
In their first year as the combined Cougars, the team will play conference opponents including Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, South Hills, Hurricane, Dunbar, Poca and Charleston East, Ellis said.
Registration for the fall football and cheer seasons is underway through July 22, which will be the first week of fall practice.
“We started signups in March,” Ellis said, “and the numbers are really good. We wanted to start early, because of the cost. There are customized uniforms the kids get fitted for, and, this way, we can get those in early and ordered before the Grid-a-Rama on Aug. 10.”
Jason Crowder, who has been affiliated with the Campbells Creek team since 2008, serves as the vice president of the organizing group. He sees social benefits to the new merger.
“I personally think this will be a great opportunity for Riverside High School,” the Campbells Creek native and current Malden resident said. “These kids will start [playing football and cheering] together, go to their middle schools but still know each other.
“It’s a good fit,” Crowder said, “not only for kids, but for families, too. We want to bring back a sense of pride in the community. We want to make a positive impact on these kids at this age. It’s a great way to reach kids and be a positive role model. My feeling is, if we can reach them at a younger age and give them a goal, they won’t stray away from that goal as they get older.”
For more information about the Campbells Creek Cougars football and cheer activities, including registration forms and player/cheerleader requirements, visit easternkanawhacougars.squadfusion.com or the group’s Facebook page online, call 304-993-5060 or send email correspondence to email@example.com