Last Updated: January 17, 2016 

GCYFA News Herald Story

Youth football association formed

News Herald Writer 747-5069 | 

(printed July 17, 2009)

    Bay County wasn’t without a youth football organization for long. A couple of months after the stresses of the economy forced the Gulf Coast Midget Football League to fold in May, the presidents of eight area youth leagues formed the Gulf Coast Youth Football Association. 
   Under the GCYFA umbrella, the Callaway Rebels, Hiland Park Razorbacks, Millville Warriors, Parker Pirates, Forest Park Raptors, Lynn Haven Raiders, Panama City Beach Barracudas and the Springfield Panthers will play football and be supported by cheerleading squads. 
“We felt because of some of the decisions that have been made
previously and things like that, we felt it better to start new, but at the same time we didn’t want to totally scrap the Gulf Coast name because it has been around for a long time,” said Darrell Johnson, athletic director for the Barracudas and the league’s rules commissioner. “We wanted to preserve some of the heritage, but at the same time we wanted to let parents, kids, coaches and everybody know this is a new ballgame.” GCYFA president Ty Steele said the new organization’s focus is to make the kids its priority.  “We changed so much,” Steele said. “We made it more organized. More structured. I think people will get more out of this for their money.”  The cost for football players is between $125-150. Cheerleading costs are less, but parents pay for uniforms.
    Among the most noticeable changes will be the decrease in out-of-area kids on each team. Last year waivers enabled five nonresidents to play on each team, and that was changed to four this year.  The other major change came in the weight classes. The Tiny Mite division is open to kids ages 5-7 who weigh a maximum of 75 pounds. The Mitey Mite division is open to ages 7-9 who weigh a maximum of 90 pounds. Pee Wees are players ages 9-11 who weigh up to 120 pounds and 12-year-olds who weigh a maximum of 100 pounds. The oldest division, Junior Varsity, is open to ages 10-13 who weigh a maximum of 135 pounds. The cheerleading age groups mirror the football limits, and girls are welcome to play football as the boys are welcome to cheer, Johnson said. 
    Some of the rules were also altered slightly.  In JV, punts only can be rushed by four players between the guards and the ends.  Teams have 10 seconds during field goals and extra points to snap the ball and kick. If the holder has to get out of his crouch, the ball is whistled dead.  The JV division is not allowed to have a coach on the field, whereas the other three divisions are.  In an attempt to keep the rules effective, Johnson said the board voted to keep all changes in place for at least two years and any attempts to change the rules for the next season must be made before Oct. 1.  

    “Many of us had been involved with the old league for several years and had our kids play in it, but the slate needed to be wiped clean, so to say,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids over the years have worked hard to keep that league going.  “We needed structure and we needed a place to keep new people from coming in and changing rules. We were able to get together and take what we already had in our minds and those that have looked at them improved the bylaws and the rules to protect the organizations and make it better for the kids.”