The Meridian Star
Packed crowds, lopsided wins, a 6-1 record — it’s easy to see why someone would want to be a Lamar Raider right now. The Lamar Midget’s team is no exception as many youth league players are taking the first step to becoming a Raider by participating in the Central Mississippi Youth Football League this fall.
Greg Auzenne, who coaches the group made up of 10, 11 and 12-year olds, said his team has plenty of room for improvement, but their willingness to grow and learn the game already has them on a path to success.
“They love looking up to the high school team,” Auzenne said. “When the high school team has success, they are there in their jerseys supporting them along. You can see them looking up to the varsity team. It’s good to see that.
“With Lamar being such a small school and being K-12, they get to see those juniors and seniors a lot. It’s good they have those people to look up to.”
For many on the team, this year was their first season of competitive sports. Auzenne has coached the mini Raiders on everything from how to put on a helmet and pads to how to recognize an offense.
“They are like sponges,” Auzenne said. “They’ll do exactly what you tell them to do and they listen well.”
Coaching first-timers can be challenging, and Auzenne will often switch roles from coach to comforter on a moments notice. He said a gentle approach is key in helping the kids get used to the game’s physical nature.
“The first thing they have to get over is the bumps and bruises of the game,” Auzenne said. “Once they realize they are going to get some scrapes and bruises and learn to play with a little pain, I think they will be fine.”
Saturday, Lamar shut out Southeast Lauderdale, 6-0, to earn its first win of the season. Auzenne said the shutout was big for his team as they continue to work on getting better every game.
“We have gone from not even knowing the positions to being able to run plays without any mistakes,” He said. “You see a lot of growth from Game 1 to Game 4. It’s definitely great to see the growth in the kids.”
Lamar is one of eight teams participating in the CMYFL as Clarkdale, Enterprise, Newton County, Northeast Lauderdale, Sebastopol, Southeast Lauderdale and Union round out the rest of the league.
The CMYFL has done more than just build better football players in recent years. The league is also focussed on bringing together members of Lauderdale County and surrounding areas to help create a positive community example. Auzenne said what makes the CMYFL special is all the hard work everyone in the community has invested into the league, from the support of the families to the referees who call the games.
“Everybody has contributed to the success of this league,” Auzenne said. “It’s really good to see that these different small areas are rallying around the kids and youth football. We are just trying to make better citizens.”