A Kemper County team member thinks over what he's going to do when he gets into the game.
A Kemper County team member thinks over what he's going to do when he gets into the game.

By Mike Robertson

Kemper County Messenger



On this particular Saturday morning, the gridiron gladiators could not be mistaken for NFL players, as their ages ranged was from 5-12 years old. And although they could not match the professionals in stature, their grit and determination was intense.

Teams from youth football organizations in Kemper County, Philadelphia, Meridian, Union and Quitman gathered at the Kemper County High School football field for the Chris Johnson Memorial Classic Jamboree.

This year's jamboree was the 10th annual event, named in honor of Chris Johnson, who was the president of Philadelphia Youth Football until the time of his death. The jamboree rotates between Philadelphia and Kemper County.

According to Jay Lloyd, vice-president of Kemper County Youth Football, participants in the full-contact league fall into four different age groups: Tiny Mites (5-6 years), Rookies (7-8 years), Midgets (9-10 years), and Pee Wees (11-12 years).

"The (Kemper County) high school football team, for the last four years have been playing together since third grade," Lloyd said. "The youth football program has been a feeder program for the high school." He went on to say that 90 percent of the players currently on the Kemper County High School team came through the youth football program.

In the beginning, the purpose of the youth football league was to give the kids something to do, in a structured atmosphere, to teach sportsmanship, skills and manners.

"It is better to fix a boy, than to repair a man," Lloyd said.