By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
Grade school students from across Roosevelt County aimed for gridiron glory Saturday as Portales City Sports kicked off their youth tackle football season at the Portales Junior High football field.
“I was pretty much born a football fan so I’m ready,” said Alex Cleveland, 9, of the Packers. Mothers sneaking Gatorade to their children on the sidelines and fathers yelling out encouragement and critiques were common sights as a slate of six games kept fans and family tuned to an all-day football event.
The junior league kicked things off early at 9 a.m., which consists of third and fourth graders. The Colts met the Dolphins, the Chiefs faced the Broncos, and the Panthers battled the Packers as helmets, cleats, and pigskins were flying all over the field.
Broncos offensive linemen Bryan Guerrero, 8, enjoyed his first game of tackle football.
“We did good. I tackled a person with the ball. I was real excited to play today,” said Guerrero.
The youngsters were definitely excited to play. High fives and shouts of encouragement were also common sights. Sportsmanship was evident too, and not just at the end of the game for the high five line. Players were helping opponents off the ground after plays ended, and all players showed respect when an opponent was injured by taking a knee until the player made it to their feet.
Panthers center Bryce Stacy, 8, was playing in his first game on Saturday.
“I was a little nervous. My job is to make a good stance, hike the ball, and block so the other team don’t get to the person with the ball,” said Stacy.
Colts running back Kasen East, 9, scored a touchdown for his team in his second season playing organized football.
“It felt good to score,” said East.
Jamari Timmons, 10, a quarterback and free safety for the Dolphins, is playing his first season in Portales after playing in Texico last year.
“It’s different playing here because we had more players on our team in Texico. I did everything I could out here today, and I’ll do my best next weekend to try to win,” said Timmons.
Another city league rookie was Kenzee Rowland, 8, of the Panthers. She joined the team this year after watching her older brother, Cole Rowland, 9, play last season.
“It looked really fun last year,” said Kenzee.
“She quit volleyball and ballet to play football,” said Cole Rowland.
“I was able to handle them,” said Kenzee.
The senior league, which consists of the Bears, 49ers, Seahawks, Saints, Cowboys, and Falcons, kicked off its slate of games in the evening. Senior league players are fifth and sixth-graders.