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The Barstow Juniors team poses for its HDYFC yearbook picture. The Juniors played for a title in Saturday's Super Bowl at Barstow High School.

Barstow hosts Super Bowl

BARSTOW • Though it was windy all day with rain in the morning, even Mother Nature couldn’t stop High Desert Youth Football and Cheer from crowning its season champions.


The Super Bowl games for each age division were held at Barstow High School on Saturday. The event went on all day, from 9 a.m. until after 8 p.m., as the two teams in each division faced off in their championship games.


It was quite an undertaking for all involved, a challenge that Barstow took on when other venues didn’t work out. Teams from all over the high desert converged on the high school, which worked with the league and the town to make the day possible.


“We like to play on high school fields, and other schools’ fees were so high, the conference couldn’t afford it,” said John ‘Tex’ Williams, president of Barstow Youth Football and Cheer. “The Barstow School District cut the costs. We’re grateful to the Barstow Unified School District and the City of Barstow for making it possible for us to play here.”


Costs are always a consideration since the league is in the hands of volunteers. League president Robert Reed says finding people to volunteer their time to help the league function is a constant concern.


“Volunteers put in thousands of hours, everything we do is volunteer-driven,” he said. “Chapters are always looking for volunteers, there are never enough.”


Reed has been president of HDYFC for five years, and was just elected to another two-year term. The league is for kids ages 6-14 and there are 13 chapters, with about 3,000 players taking part this year. Registration fees cover equipment, as well as insurance, and things such as training coaches.


“Coaches are trained in things like concussions and they undergo background checks. You have to train to be a coach, football isn’t like any other beast,” Reed said. “We have an all-kids-play policy, so players are rotated. And we promote good grades, kids have to have a 2.0 GPA to participate. Individual chapters can set higher standards if they want.”


The local team that played on Saturday was the Barstow Juniors, who went 6-2 during the regular season. That record secured them a bowl berth against Apple Valley, which won, 18-6.


It was an uphill climb all season for the Juniors, who struggled with injuries. One player broke his arm early in the season, while another suffered a broken ankle near the end. Gionni Terrell, who scored Barstow’s only touchdown on Saturday, started the season with a hurt knee and missed the first six games.


David Depue had been an assistant coach in the league, with this year his first as head coach of the Juniors.


“It was a great season. We went through a lot, had to deal with a few injuries,” said coach Depue after Saturday’s game. “It took a lot of hard work and dedication. I guarantee no team has harder practices, that’s what got us here.”


Depue will be back next season after his first experience at the helm. He and his assistant coaches let their players know after the loss that they had accomplished a lot this year, had shown a lot of character and had a lot to be proud of.


“I loved it. I had a great time, I love the game of football,” Depue said of his inaugural season. “The kids are pretty disappointed right now, but by the banquet, hopefully they’ll have thought over what we had to say. They played a great season and it was an accomplishment just to get here.”


It was particularly nice to play in front of a home crowd.


“The best thing about the game is it was at home,” said the coach. “We found out about it a couple of days before Thansgiving. My coaches were super happy.”


The Barstow teams all did well this year. The Freshman squad came up just short of a Super Bowl appearance, getting all the way to the semifinals. While HDYFC is always looking to expand, the Barstow chapter is a healthy one, with Williams involved with the program basically year-round, and always looking to strengthen it. The chapter enjoys much local support, making Williams’ job a bit easier.


“We have a very solid program. When it comes to sports and kids, we’re one big family. I couldn’t ask for better parents or board members,” he said. “I’m already excited for next year. We’re getting new helmets and a few other things. We’re ready to go.”


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