Vipers ready for big season

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Aug. 10, 2012
Zach, 12, makes a catch in a drill as his B-squad teammates look on during the Vernon Vipers' fourth night of practice on Aug. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.
Zach, 12, makes a catch in a drill as his B-squad teammates look on during the Vernon Vipers' fourth night of practice on Aug. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Vernon Vipers Youth Football & Cheerleading program can boast something of a win before the season even starts (the first game day is Sept. 9). The number of players on all four levels is at the highest it has been in years, with 126 football players and more than 75 cheerleaders.

“I've been involved for seven years, and I think this year is the biggest influx of new players,” said Vipers President Bill Main.

The A-team and Mitey-Mites (7- to 8-year-olds) still have a few openings, said C-team coach and Commissioner Scott Hagelin, who added that his squad has more than enough depth, with 39 players. “With 11 kids on the field, that gives me a pretty good sideline,” Hagelin said.

Main said 21 players on the A-team is the highest in years, and one thing that brought that number up is the players' own recruiting of schoolmates. While that level is typically comprised of eighth-graders, some seventh- and sixth-graders also made the A-squad, as they made the weight requirements.

“It's not a case of kids that happen to be chubby,” Main said. “They're athletic, big kids who will help the team.”

Training camps opened on Aug. 1 and take place weeknights at Legion Field, where each night's practice adds another layer of learning. The players all seem enthusiastic and are “getting it” well.

“You can see it in just one day, in the way a player hits the sled [for example],” Main said. “You just try to be as encouraging as possible, and by the end of that night, they've got that drill down pat.”

Main said he thinks the numbers and great attitude of the players should translate to wins on the field. “Our A-team has a really good chance of doing well,” he said. “They went into the playoffs last year [as B-teamers] and won their bowl game. They had some younger kids – the kids who are going to be in the eighth grade this year were some of the workhorses on the team.”

Coach Bill Firetto is also making the transition from the B-team to the A-team, along with his players. Firetto's dedication, Main said, typifies the support of the Vipers' volunteers. “He doesn't have any kids in the system,” Main said. “He grew up in Vernon and went to Rockville High. As he graduated, became an adult and matured, he said he wants to give back.”

The Vipers play their first games on Sept. 9, at East Hartford.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.vernonyouthfootball.com.


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