Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YOUNG GATORS WITH GAME; Flag Football Coach Leads Team to 75 Wins in 5 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YOUNG GATORS WITH GAME; Flag Football Coach Leads Team to 75 Wins in 5 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Johnson

Jason Carter never played organized football, but five years ago, when his son Jared asked to join a flag football league, he got drafted into coaching.

Seventy-five wins later, his OakLeaf Gators have lost only one regular-season game and have captured three championships along the way - a recent U-12 YMCA title, in which the team went a perfect 10-0, and two I9 Sports championships.

Carter, who started coaching the team in the under-10 age group in 2003 (when his son was 8), said the Gators' success is due mostly to the same group of kids sticking together since the second year.

"We've had the same basic team for the past four years," he said. "These are kids that really have the heart to play football. All these kids beg their parents to be able to play football."

Almost the whole team also participates in Pop Warner tackle football, a league that Carter also coached in for two years.

"I had to give up Pop Warner this year since we've just had a baby," he said. Carter and his wife, Joanne, are now the proud parents of Jared and five-month-old Jolie. Since Carter is also a high school and YMCA soccer referee, as well as an information technology specialist for CSX and his own business, something had to go.

The touch football leagues play five-on-five, and the Gators, with 11 players, are able to play five different kids on offense and defense.

"A lot of the teams play the same five kids on both sides of the ball, so that helps us some," Carter said.

Bill Sellinger, whose son, Billy, plays on the team, helps Carter out along the sidelines.

"He's just a really great guy," Sellinger said. "And he's a really good coach. He's firm with them, but fair. And he knows it's all for fun."

Gator players rarely practice, the coach said. He's drawn up 20 different plays, and the players memorize them and do the best they can on game day.

"Each kid plays the same position most of the time, and the entire offense knows each play by number," Carter explains. They also have arm bands with the plays on them, just in case their 11-year-old memories happen to get confused. …

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