SPORTS

Senior Dolphins/Marlins are shaping up

TINA HARBUCK 654-8440|@DestinLogTina tharbuck@thedestinlog.com

For the last two years, the Destin youth football program has not fielded an 11- and 12-year-old senior league football team due to a lack of participation.

But this year, they are “17 strong” and are getting ready to hit the gridiron in the Panhandle Youth Football Association.

“I’m very impressed with this group,” said Coach Daniel Griffin.

Griffin, who is the head coach of the Destin Marlin Middle School football team, is also coach of the 11- and 12-year-old senior team.

“They have a good blend of size, skill and speed. Mentally they know the game, so it’s kind of a fun group to coach.” Griffin said.

“Their learning curve is way ahead of what I thought it would be,” he said after only seven practices.

Destin missed two years of not having a senior league team.

“You can’t have kids missing a couple of years of football and stay competitive for the middle school team,” Griffin said.

So after being named head football coach at Destin Middle School this year, Griffin said he was glad to work to get a senior league team back up and running.

“We want to keep our kids from going over to Niceville or South Walton and keep them in Destin,” he said.

The Destin seniors, which will go by the name Marlins instead of Dolphins, will be running the same offense and defense as Destin Middle.

“They are learning our terminology and they are learning the Marlin Way,” Griffin said.

“I fully believe a lot of these will move right into Spring practice next year and become starters,” he added.

However for now, “They are still learing. I had no idea what these kids could do. So we’ve got to figure out what they can and can’t do and how they are going to have to mix for this team.

“But they are shaping up good. I look forward to some good experiences with this group. They are going to be very competitive. They seemed to have a lot of heart and a little football attitude,” Griffin said.

The Senior Marlins will participate in the Panhandle Youth Football Association jamboree on Aug. 22 in Niceville and then play their first regular season game on Aug. 29.

The Panhandle Youth Football Association is made up of teams from Destin, Niceville, Shalimar, South Walton, Walton County, Panama City Beach, Lynn Haven, Hammock Bay and Crestview.

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