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ESFA youth football, cheer conditioning in full swing

Football season is right around the corner and ESFA, Excelsior Springs Football Association youth tackle football featuring players third through seventh grade and youth cheerleaders grades kindergarten through eighth, are braving the heat to prepare themselves for their season, which begins at the end of this month.

More than 100 football players make up one third and fourth grade team, two fifth and sixth grade teams and one seventh grade team. They’ll hit the fields in three weeks in full pads after 10 hours of conditioning and training.  The cheerleaders, on the other hand, have undergone extensive training with no fewer than 10 cheer coaches on hand prepping them for what they hope will be the tools to get them on board when high school comes around.

Tonya Williams, cheer coordinator for ESFA, said that this year there are close to 40 young ladies on the cheer squad, which will break down into groups to bring Tiger spirit to the sidelines during the boys’ games both on the road and at home.  Seventh and eighth grade cheerleaders are being led by coaches Heather Kindle, Missty Bennett, Judy Sexton and Heather Cazzell.  Titan coaches for fifth and sixth grade squads are under the direction of Stacie Brayfield, Jackie Albertson, Gretchen Armon and Maria Miller-Smith; this year’s Titan cheer squad will boast 17 cheerleaders.  For the Bantam division, cheering for grades third and fourth, coaches are Jessica Blanchard and Jessica Barney leading 11 girls on the squad.

On the football side of the field, the youth players began preparations Monday evening with their first night of conditioning.

ESFA is one of nine teams competing in the Show-Me Youth Football League including Cameron, Lathrop, Lawson, Orrick, Plattsburg, Polo, Braymer, Gallatin and North Platte.  League rules require all teams to have no less than 10 hours of conditioning in before players can put on their tackling gear and start any full contact drills.  ESFA players will reach those numbers by the conclusion of this week after four nights of two-hour practices and a three-mile run scheduled for Saturday morning.  ESFA coaches even added in a make-up day this Sunday for any players who might have missed a practice this week and might need to make up a couple of hours so they can put their pads with the rest of their team at the beginning of next week.

Although the Show-Me League’s season doesn’t actually begin until the first weekend in September, all teams in the league, including ESFA football players and cheerleaders, will show their stuff at the annual Jamboree planned for Saturday, Aug. 24.  The jamboree will be held at Plattsburg High School; for more information visit

By Jae Juarez •

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