Only Wenatchee and East Wenatchee put more kids on NCW Youth Football fields than the local effort that fielded 60 kids from 8 to 12 years of age this year.
"That's awesome, considering we are one of the smallest school districts in the league," noted Brandon White, who coached one of two bantam teams of 8- to 10-year-olds through the two-month season that ended Nov. 2.
The young players practice hard and play hard in full uniforms that reflect their local high school's team colors and mascots, but coaches can be seen on the field giving guidance to the players. Referees teach the rules, and the whole effort is aimed at teaching the kids.
"We as coaches don't look at the scoreboard as much," White explained. "We teach the kids the proper fundamentals of the game, both on and off the field. "We teach fair play and team play."
The whole enterprise, which many credit with elevating the level of play at the middle and high school football programs, was started in 2008 by the late Rob Williams, a former LR student and Oregon Duck hall-of-famer. It now commands a big volunteer effort and plenty of parents willing to travel on Saturdays.
The league also includes teams from Brewster, Leavenworth, Omak, Okanogan, Cashmere, Oroville, Tonasket, Chelan, Manson, Wenatchee, and East Wenatchee.
It's the only league in the state that doesn't have a play-off system, White says, and the only league that depends on volunteers for referees.
At Lake Roosevelt, Nathaniel Hall, Josh Harris, Desmond House and Trey Nicholson refereed the home games.
White and Joe Tynan, both coaches for the Lake Roosevelt Raider team, coached the bantam "red" team this year. Bubba Egbert, Jason Kiser and Billy Nicholson and Cody Desautel coached LR "gold" team. Eric Braaten, Phil Wapato and Pete Adolf coached the junior team of 10- to 12-year-olds.
For home games, Aaron Derr and Bill Black worked the clock, while Michael Thomas, Camden Williams and Chance Garvin manned the chains. And Tera Whitelaw was the administrative paperwork "guru" this year.
More photos of the LR red team vs. Wenatchee: