THE BOX

Part 3: Junior Varsity Downplayed, Struggles Hold Back Programs

"I know that there are a lot of other things that contribute to wins and losses. But I feel strongly that caring about the JV has helped us bring P-Park back to a respectable program." - Ken Crawford
“I know that there are a lot of other things that contribute to wins and losses. But I feel strongly that caring about the JV has helped us bring P-Park back to a respectable program.” – Ken Crawford

Lack of resources (coaching stipends), Youth league weight limits and not enough games. You have heard it all before. Junior varsity programs fight these battles annually. Even at the varsity level, it is difficult to find quality coaches and keep quality coaches because of the pay. Junior Varsity programs are stifled by many other factors than just the above mentioned.

In addition to lack of resources, youth league weight limits and minimal¬†games, Ken Crawford, Pinellas Park varsity head football coach is adamant that the JV programs could be much better if a higher priority was placed on them at the County and State level. “There is No excitement. No playoffs, no bowl game, no pay off at the end of the season. Crappy equipment and not enough. Crappy uniforms. I am Big on building the JV. It was a decision I made when hired at Pinellas Park. When I took over, the program was 0-10, 5-45 the past 5 seasons, 11-59 the past 7 years. There hadn’t been a winning season on JV or Varsity in around a decade!” In most counties, the junior varsity teams will play a maximum of 6 games. Selected players are then moved up to the varsity team and have the chance to contributed on special teams, definitely as practice players. Doesn’t sound sexy. But teaches the hierarchy with in the team, teaches how to practice as a varsity player and provide valuable experience.

“Budgets” Bob Hudson expresses. Not enough funds is the biggest problem coaches fight. The East Lake varsity head football coach also thinks youth football plays a part.

“Youth ball having weight limits causes big kids to have no experience coming in.

Youth coaches ‘scholarshipping’ 9th graders so they can win a super bowl and keep their weight down and coaches that don’t put an emphasis on junior varsity, not spending enough time developing them.” Hudson believes all play a role in struggling junior varsity programs and so does Wiregrass Ranch head football coach, Mark Kantor, “The quality of coaches and the lack there of paying coaches.

It is very difficult to get quality coaches when you say to them, ‘You have to volunteer your time.’

There needs to be a few more supplements that allows the head coach to reach out and get those quality coaches that will teach the proper skills necessary on the JV level.”

The varsity teams compete for a district title and playoff spot throughout the 10 game regular season. “I think there should be some type of championship on this level” says Hillsborough High assistant football coach, Alonzo Ashwood. “There is not enough focus on all levels; Administration, Faculty, Varsity, and some Little Leagues.”

For now, the solution seems simple; More money and more attention to the junior varsity league could solve a few pressing problems. Now the ball has to get rolling for a possible solution. “Although I fight with assistants on a yearly basis, I made a rule that unless you are going to start on Varsity offense or defense, not just special teams, you stay down [junior varsity].

It has helped me Keep a JV staff in tact and attract more guys to help.

Our JV was 3-7 in year one, and since has lost 4 games in 5 years. In turn, our varsity has never had a losing season since and been a playoff team for the past 4 years. I know that there are a lot of other things that contribute to wins and losses.

But, I feel strongly that caring about the JV has helped us bring P-Park back to a respectable program.” – Ken Crawford

Part 1: Junior Varsity downplayed, has tremendous value for players and programs
Part 2: Junior Varsity downplayed, The Benefits For a College Prospect