The 2013 Murfreesboro Football League season will get underway Saturday, Aug. 31, with the 5- and 6-year-old flag division and the 7- and 8-year-old tackle divisions at the fields near StarPlex.
The remainder of the league will begin its schedule next week.
“We have more than 300 players involved in all four classifications,” said Gary Arbit, the commissioner of the league and athletic coordinator for Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department.
“Those numbers have gone up and down over the years with the addition of all of the middle school football teams, but we have always had a good crop of players. In this league, the kids are given a chance to play even if they do not make their middle school teams or even if they are not interested in playing except on this level.”
The size of the fields for the tackle division are 80 yards in length instead of the the regulation 100 yards, and the quarters are eight minutes in duration. The flag division, beginning its second year as part of league, will play on even smaller fields, have shorter quarters, and play only on Saturdays.
The 7-8 tackle division will also play on Saturdays and the 9- and 10- and 11- and 13-year-old divisions will play on Monday and Tuesday evenings on the lighted fields.
“Our goal is to teach them the basics and give them a chance to sharpen their skills,” Arbit said. “Hopefully, we can prepare them for middle school football and even high school football if that is their goal, or (even if it is) just for them to have fun and have a sense of accomplishment at this level.”
Kenneth Clark is the elder statesman of the league. He has been coaching in the league for 34 years.
“What I like about this league is that it is a place to make a positive influence on these young athletes,” Clark said. “I have had good years and bad years. Some years, it seems I am always rebuilding but the win-lose record is not important.
“It is what the league and the coaches can do for these kids – teach them some values and direction in their life. I remember what football did for me, and this league gives coaches like me a chance to give back.”
The league will close the season in late October with bowl games.
Every team except the flag division will play in the games that will be contested at Siegel High School. The seeding for bowl weekend will be determined by their season records.
“The Murfreesboro Football League was a very important part in my life,” Arbit said. “I played in the league when I was a youngster, so I know how important it can be for these kids because it was for me.
“That is why we at the Parks and Recreation Department try our best to make the league a positive experience for the coaches, the parents and, especially, the players.”