In a huddle of fifth- and sixth-graders, Ernie DelGrosso and Dusty Schulze ran down a list of football do's and don'ts their own version of introductory football. The coaching duo covered the major rules of the game while giving their Doak Walker Football team, the Vikings, an idea of what the gridiron is all about.
"Right now, the kids are just trying to figure out what's going on. They're pretty clueless about the game right now," DelGrosso said, "but give them a few weeks and they'll be a machine."
The Vikings' coaches, like the coaches of almost every other Doak Walker team, have a daunting task ahead of them for the next week. They have to instate a football system that all their players understand for the season opener in two weeks.
The task is made more difficult because many of the gridiron youths are inexperienced with the game of football and the concept of full contact.
"The kids come into the Doak Walker program with little or no experience with full-contact sports, so the whole hitting part of the game is pretty intimidating to them," Schulze said. "We try and get them to understand that if they do everything they're supposed to do, getting hit won't even hurt."
Doak Walker football will kick off its season Sept. 7, when three teams play during halftime of the Moffat County versus Green River Wyo., high school football game.
Each fifth- and sixth-grade team will have an eight-game season, while the third- and fourth-graders will only play four. In all, there are around 125 football players in the Doak Walker football league, with an average of 10 players per team.
Two of the fifth- and sixth-grade teams will hail from Hayden, and will represent the only out-of-town threats.
Right now in the Doak Walker pre-season, teams have five practices a week, but this will be drastically reduced once season starts.
"We're only allowed to practice three times a week in season, and that includes the game," DelGrosso said. "So, it's important that we get most of the game plan in before season starts."
The Vikings' game plan will include two to three formations, with 10 plays out of each formation, along with a multitude of defensive fronts.
Doak Walker, being eight-man football, takes some of the weight off the coach's back. The reduced team size means emphasis is taken off strategy and placed on sound fundamentals.
"Our offensive scheme is simple. If a kid can remember the numbers one through 10, they can remember our offense," Schulze said. "What we really try and do with a team is make sure they have an understanding of the game. If they don't, they won't have a good year."