Pint-sized powerhouses - Destin Dolphins young but eager on the gridiron
They may be young, but they already love the game.
"We've got a lot of young ones but they are picking it up," said Destin Dolphin Mighty Mite Coach Nick Coleman. "They love the game and it shows."
The City of Destin Recreation Department is fielding three youth Destin Dolphin football teams in the Panhandle Youth Football Association. The association is made up of teams from Panama City Beach, South Walton, Niceville, Shalimar, DeFuniak Springs and Destin.
For the last few weeks, the players have been on the practice field behind Destin Elementary at least three days a week for two hour sessions of warm-ups, drills and learning the plays.
The Destin Dolphin Mighty Mites are made up of youngsters 5- to 6-year-old, while the Peewee Dolphins field 7- to 8-year-olds, and the Junior Dolphins are made up of 9- and 10-year-olds.
For the Mighty Mites, just getting the uniform on and walking through warm-ups is a big deal, not to mention understanding right from left.
However, some of them already know what position they want to play. Ryder Matekovich, 6, wants to be the quarterback, and Brayden Waters, 5, says he likes playing linebacker.
As for the Peewees, Coach Kurt Davis says "It's coming along OK. They're smart kids, and they're coming along."
The Peewee Dolphins will field about 21 players.
The biggest challenge Davis says with this group is "attention span. We try not to stop during practice. We try to keep them busy."
The Junior Dolphins have about 18 kids on the roster and Coach Trevor Davis says it's kind of a "rebuilding year."
"We're young, but we've got a lot of size for a bunch of 9-year-olds," Trevor Davis said.
Although they are young, "they know what we expect," Trevor Davis said. "We expect hard work, dedication and commitment. But the main thing is to have fun."
The Juniors are already getting their positions down and loving the game.
Ryan Driscoll, who will be playing outside linebacker, says he likes tackling best.
"I like hitting people," said cornerback Banks Benitone. "I like running around and testing all my athletic abilities."
The Destin Dolphins will get a chance to show their abilities on Sept. 7 in their first home game. Game time and opponent will be announced later.