Reviving football in New England

Since co-op’ing with another school, the community of New England has been starved for local football competition.

The 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade football players move down the field after the play is reset. The New England Tigers were just one of six teams to participate in the jamboree hosted by New England on August 30.
The 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade football players move down the field after the play is reset. The New England Tigers were just one of six teams to participate in the jamboree hosted by New England on August 30.

Posted September 5, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Since co-op’ing with another school, the community of New England has been starved for local football competition. The New England Booster Club, along with various other volunteers, are hoping to sooth that appetite, starting with the youngsters of the town.

Entering its second season, the New England youth football team, consisting of the community’s 4th, 5th, and 6th-graders, began play Saturday, August 30 with the jamboree kicking off the 2014 campaign. They began practice August 18, and will have their first regular season game Saturday, September 6.

The jamboree featured all six teams in the league, and roughly half the length of a regular football field was utilized for the match-ups. Each squad would run eight plays on offense, and eight plays on defense. After the time was up, they rotated and faced another team.

Kirk Erickson assisted with the scheduling, and worked it out so the teams could rotate as evenly with each other as possible.

This whole process, though, started when some of the parents started conversing about getting something football related back to New England last year.

“We had quite a few parents that have wanted a football program to come back to New England,” said Adrien Kathrein, President of the Booster Club.

They initially started to check out options including flag football. Then Kathrein contacted the leader of the Dickinson Youth Football league, and was convinced to form a youth team in New England. With the help of the Dickinson league, they began the process.

After putting down a deposit, equipment from Dickinson was loaned to the New England Booster Club for the team to use last year while money could be raised to purchase their own equipment.

A main source of revenue for this new endeavor was the demolition derby at last year’s Wheat Harvest Festival. Along with a $1,000 grant from the New England Community Foundation, the Booster Club was able to purchase pads, pants with imbedded protection, helmets, down marker chains, yard painters, and training equipment.

The inaugural season was played in the Dickinson League, but after some internal issues in that organization, Kathrein met with the Parks and Recreation Director in Bowman. They reached out to other leaders of teams around the region and had enough interest to form their own league, and the ‘Badlands Youth Football League’ was formed.

Included in the new league are teams from Bowman, Beach, Killdeer, New England, Heart River (a co-op of South Heart and Belfield), and a team from Baker, Mont.

A benefit of this new league with teams from this region is going to be familiarity.

“We’re playing with the same teams that the kids will play with in their high school career,” Kathrein said.

Along with the Booster Club, the football movement has two sub-committees that help in the effort.

Inlcuded in the concessions committee are Trish Kaufman, Rachel Bock, Jessica Sorenson, and Ladene Prince. The football committee includes Clarence Binsotck, Shawn Wolf, Greg Ulracher Jessica Eisenbarth, and Kathrein.

Clarence Binstock has been the head coach for the past two years and Jeremy Fischer assists with the team.

The Booster Club is not only trying to improve the game on the field, but also the field itself.

Among the improvements are soil upgrades, and grass seeding upgrades. Dakota General and Ed Schwartz have donated materials and time to the effort. Also taking care of the field is Shawn Wolf, who works on it almost daily since practice has started.

When asked about the future of football in New England, Kathrein is hoping this youth football initiative keeps the kids interested, and as they get older there will be enough interest in returning a team to New England at the high school level.

Future fundraisers will be scheduled to provide the team and the Booster Club with more support. Already this year they will be teaming up with the New England Fire Department on the derby during the Wheat Harvest Festival, and sometime in November, the Booster Club is going to be hosting a chili cook off.

Though it’s early in its tenure, the football program already has great support from the community.

“We have an enormous community support, it’s unbelievable the number of people that are interested in supporting this program,” Kathrein said. “It’s awesome to see the people that don’t have any kids or grandkids, but they’re there to watch.”

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