While the high school football postseason is still several weeks off, the youth teams in Craig got underway Monday.
Craig Parks and Recreation Doak Walker football leagues, which started their regular seasons in late August, began the playoffs at 5:15 p.m. Monday with the fourth vs. fifth place game in the third and fourth grade league at Woodbury Sports Complex.
If the playoffs’ first game was any indication, it will be a wild week.
The Vikings, sponsored by Carelli’s, took on the Raiders of the Craig Police Dept. with a chance to play once more in the four-team playoffs Wednesday.
The Vikings came away with a 34-32 victory, after both teams exchanged long touchdowns on creative plays in the second half. The Raiders were driving with a chance to win, but ran out of time just outside the 10-yard line.
For the Vikings, it was fun to get a win. But both coaches came away from the game beaming.
“That was a tough win,” Vikings coach Eric Day said. “And to get to keep going, that’s awesome. I can’t say anything but good about the Raiders because they played their hearts out tonight. They wanted it. Unfortunately they didn’t prevail, but I went over and congratulated their team because they had it going on tonight.”
Raiders coach Steve Maneotis felt similar.
“It was tons of fun,” he said. “Our kids had it tough all year, we are very undersized, but they played with a lot of heart tonight and they worked hard. They worked their hearts out this season.”
Beyond the wins and the losses, Maneotis said he felt the program is really meant to help children learn how to play the game, and learn how to play as a team.
“At this level, if they’re learning to pass, catch, block and run, learn the basics, then I think we’ve done our job. I think we did that with this group of kids. They did an outstanding job, they learned a lot.”
Day said his players have had fun and worked hard all season as well.
“I really have to give it to these boys, they put their all into it this year,” Day said. “I’m glad we won so we get to keep going.”
The fifth and sixth grade Doak Walker league tournament takes place today, with the championship scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. The third and fourth grade finish their playoffs Wednesday.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.