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September 18, 2019

9/4/2019 4:24:00 PM
La Conner youth football league geared up for games
LINE DRILL – La Conner Pee Wee football players line up for a tackling drill during a recent practice session. Providing instruction were coaches Ernie Almaraz (back to camera), Eddie Almaraz, and Lexi Almaraz. The La Conner youth football league has been going strong for more than a decade.  – Photo by Brad Reynolds
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LINE DRILL – La Conner Pee Wee football players line up for a tackling drill during a recent practice session. Providing instruction were coaches Ernie Almaraz (back to camera), Eddie Almaraz, and Lexi Almaraz. The La Conner youth football league has been going strong for more than a decade.  – Photo by Brad Reynolds
Bill Reynolds


The future is now for La Conner football.
Youth league players who someday hope to fill the ranks of La Conner High’s grid program have kicked off yet another season of their own.
And done so in divine fashion.
The La Conner juniors, coached by Charlie Edwards, Sonny James and Kyle Ryan, defeated Concrete 6-0 with a Hail Mary pass as time expired in the team’s recent season opener.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Edwards, who is also the league’s vice president.
The winning play was set up by a Concrete turnover. Edwards’ son, C.J., recovered a fumble forced by Edgar Lopez in the waning seconds. Anthony Pena then connected with Cody Suit on a completion, setting up Edwards’ last second toss to Pena.
“There were three people guarding me,” Pena said. “I caught the pass, juked a guy, and ran away. I had to fight for the ball, but C.J. put it right where it had to be.”
Even more amazing, Edwards changed the pass route before the ball was snapped. Coaches had called for a stop-and-go. but Edwards switched to a straight fly pattern after looking over the Concrete defense.
It worked.
The quarterback’s head coach – and dad – couldn’t have been happier.
“Three plays like that in a row is the kind of scenario you draw up in the backyard,” he said. “Winning on the last play of the game is the stuff you see in the movies.”
Still, it was no fluke, he insisted. Fundamentals are at the core of what Edwards and his assistants stress.
“We try to keep it pretty simple,” he said, “and then add some new wrinkles as the year goes on.”
Pass blocking is something taught nearly from day one, said offensive lineman Chaz James.
“It’s my favorite part,” he said.
Run blocking for backs like Brent Bobb, Jr., who excels on sweeps, is also a big part of the equation.
Pee Wee team home start
La Conner’s Pee Wee team, coached by brothers Eddie and Ernie Almaraz and comprised of six-to-eight-year-olds, begins its season this Saturday (5 p.m.) at home with Darrington, after the juniors game.
“Basically,” Ernie said, “our main objective is to teach the fundamentals of football and how to play the game safely.”
The Pee Wees have spent practice time working on the “heads-up” tackling technique that has been adopted at all levels of football. That’s not all the Almaraz brothers teach.
A big thing for us,” said Ernie, “is teaching the game of football and how it relates to life.”
The current La Conner coaches and league president Mandy Buck credit Jack Hulbert, Steve Johnson and other community members with having launched the league a little more than a decade ago. They say the league helped lay the foundation for a later string of six straight La Conner High playoff runs under coaches Johnny Lee and Peter Voorhees.
“A lot of the kids that were part of that came through this program,” Ernie said. “It helps the high school because it feeds into it. It’s a great thing for La Conner.”

 







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