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Pop Warner football arrives in Kershaw County

Posted: August 3, 2016 1:40 p.m.
Updated: August 5, 2016 1:00 a.m.

After two months of registration and some nine months of planning, the Kershaw County Jaguars kicked off their inaugural practice on Monday.

The Jaguars are a first-year member of the Pop Warner Football organization, a program with 18 leagues spread throughout the Midlands with players ranging from five through 14 years of age.

The local entry, founded by Antonio McCaskill, Sarah Parker, Marcus Simpson and Chavis James, will play eight regular season games at various sites this fall. James said the organizers are hoping to play at least two home games at yet-to-be-determined sites in and around Kershaw County. The remainder of the contests will be played in Richland County. 

Pop Warner Football has five different divisions in its ranks. Since the Jaguars are a new team which is trying to build its franchise, the KC group will field a Junior Pee Wee and a Pee Wee team in 2016. McCaskill is the commissioner as well as the head coach of the Junior Pee Wee squad.

“Hopefully, a successful first season and with support from the schools next year will be different,” James said of the group’s desire to have a full five teams ready to go for the 2017 campaign. For now, the two squads will be the foundation of the local program.

Registration was held at Spirit Athletics in May and June. There is a $180 entry fee, which can be divided into payments, with each player receiving and keeping a jersey with the player’s name on the back, along with a pair of team socks and pants.

From there, team officials went in search of a practice field, which they found in Lugoff.

James, a Kershaw County native, said the goal of the local Pop Warner Football program is to teach young players the correct fundamentals of the game which will, in turn, help as players are funneled into the Kershaw County middle school and high school football programs.

“With this Pop Warner Association,” James said, “we are attempting to work with the middle and high school on teaching the fundamentals of football and in any county, if you have a successful little league teams you have successful middle and high school teams simply because the basics of the game are there not just the talent the kids aren't having to start over.”

James added that players from Kershaw County who participate in Pop Warner football leagues will see high-quality competition when playing teams from the Columbia area. He added that young players will benefit from the added exposure in playing teams from throughout the region. One dream which James harbors is taking a team from Kershaw County to the Pop Warner national championships in Florida.

“I just want to I see our kids succeed,” James said. “Kershaw was a football-run county. I want to bring that back to this area.”

Started in 1929, Pop Warner Football is played by more than 250,000 youth who compete in an organization which enforced a strict age and weight matrix which reduced the risk and realities of injuries to its participants in the tackle football program in which players can weigh as little as 35 pounds in Tiny Mite. The unlimited division has a minimum weight of 105 pounds for its players.

For more information on the Kershaw Jaguars’ Pop Warner Football Organization, please log onto www.kershawjaguarsyouthfootball.com or, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kershawjaguarsyouthfootball/


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