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Youth flag football league growing in Centre Region

by on October 04, 2018 12:39 PM

STATE COLLEGE — After just one season, the Centre Region youth flag football program has nearly doubled in enrollment.

When it started in 2017, the program had 93 players on the roster. That number has expanded to 160 in 2018, and it is continuing to grow.

The idea to bring a youth flag football program to the area started when a local church eliminated its flag and tackle program, said Jeff Hall, sports director for Centre Region Parks and Recreation. Hall teamed up with former commissioners Chris Milito and John Potter to create a new league — one that is strictly flag football. 

Despite having contact leagues in Pennsylvania, many parents are starting to lean toward flag football.

“We just think they’re too small to play tackle — too little, too young and it’s not really necessary,” said Megan Zinobile, mother of quarterback Grayson Zinobile. “They can get all of the skills and concept of football by playing in this league without playing full contact.”

Other parents agree.
“In our case, my husband and I did a little research and we believe that they should stay in flag until they’re a little bit older, maybe 11, fully developed,” said Jen Rahne, mother of quarterback Jake Rahne.
This year, the Centre Region program is affiliated for the first time with the NFL Heads Up program. Once in the program, leagues receive NFL replica jerseys and equipment. 

One requirement of the Heads Up program is the completion of an online course that emphasizes player safety, teaching coaches how to look for concussions and treat injuries. Once they complete the course, coaches receive a Coaching Certification through USA Football.
The Centre Region program is divided into three divisions: four teams of first- through second-graders, six teams of third- through fourth-graders and four teams of fifth- through seventh-graders. Teams names are based on those of NFL teams.

The league practices Tuesdays and Thursdays with games on Sundays. All kids in the Centre Region are encouraged to join.
For more information, contact the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Department at (814) 231-3071.

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