After more than 40 years of Destin youth taking the gridiron on Saturday’s as the Destin Dolphins, an era has come to a close — at least for this season.
“The numbers are down … all around,” said Lisa Firth, parks and recreation deputy director for the city of Destin.
Last year, Destin fielded three teams in the Panhandle Youth Football Association, Peewees, Juniors and Seniors.
This year when it came time for youth to register to play football and represent as the Destin Dolphins, only two signed up for Peewees and Seniors and six for the Junior team.
With Destin Middle School opening up their football program to fifth and sixth graders, it may have pulled some away from what would be Senior Dolphins.
Other programs that may be pulling youth away from the tackle football program is travel baseball, a fall season for the Destin Little League or a youth flag football league in Niceville.
Firth said they are exploring the idea of flag football for the youth; however, they are not giving up on the game of tackle football for the Dolphins.
“We’ve always had an awesome team,” she said.
Bill Shirah, who worked with the youth football program for more than 20 years, was saddened by the news.
“It’s a crying shame,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of championships.”
The Destin Dolphins have been playing football before Destin was a city.
Shirah said the football program started in the early '70s.
“We will try again next year,” Firth said.