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Pioneer Football League gains steam
Red Runner being pursued by Orange Defender 5-22 PFL.jpg
Players had three tags and defenders only had to grab one of them for a safe “tackle” on Saturday at Nunley Stadium. The K-2 grade competition between the Orange and Red teams had some playmakers on both squads. - photo by Brad Durham
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Veteran Pioneer football coach Paul Martin was coaching teams in the new PFL youth league Saturday morning during Pioneer football’s Spring Fling that included kids playing football from kindergarten through high school at Nunley Stadium. - photo by Brad Durham

The Pioneer Spring Fling opened Saturday morning with a new youth football league entitled the PFL, Pioneer Football League. 

WCHS head football coach Matt Turner started the PFL for several reasons that are amplified below in this article. During the past two Saturdays in May, the PFL has had approximately 200 young children, including both boys and girls, participating between the ages of 4-12.


The PFL is a flag football-oriented league that has extremely limited contact. There is no tackling, no pads. All the kids need are jerseys, flags, and mouthpieces which are provided. The league is a safe way for young children to learn the basics of football.


Coach Turner explained his reasons for starting the league. Turner said, “My vision is that the youth is where Pioneer football can start building state championships. Go to Maryville and Oakland, and you will see that they have youth leagues. They are teaching the same things from youth leagues and middle schools through high school.”

Turner continued, “The idea is to use the same terminology. The kids will know what a base block is at 14-15 years old. At the same time, I feel as though youth football in Warren County has been so dysfunctional, so misled, the best solution is to introduce parents to flag football. We want to develop age-appropriate skill sets. We have a silent minority who want to get the 5- and 6-year-olds in pads and smack heads. The kids are not ready for that. We are going to follow the USA developmental model with all the science behind it. There is limited contact.”

Turner continued, “Flag football is low cost. We are ready to go with flag football in the fall. We have all the equipment we need. We want to teach them down and distance, what the rules are, what defensive and offensive positions are -- that type of stuff. That is year one. Then we will have year two. Maybe by year three we will have rookie tackle that is properly taught. Rookie tackle is limited contact in which they are not taken to the ground yet. They will still use the flags.”



Matt Turner does not want young kids to be hit so hard they lose interest in football. Furthermore, Turner wants to see a youth program that has certified coaches who are properly teaching and coaching football so kids from preschool to high school will be learning a consistent set of fundamentals and plays that will create a smarter, more experienced high school football team. It will help overcome what many high school experience with cycles of winning and losing seasons.

Coach Matt Turner concluded, “We want to have a proper continuation for them. People probably do not understand that the difference between a sixth-grader and eighth-grader is the same difference between a freshman and senior in high schol. Another thing that is neat is that some of our best players in the PFL this spring are girls. They will probably grow and become good soccer and volleyball players in high school because they have become part of the Pioneer program. They may become a part of our support staff in high school who will work with video or equipment as a volunteers. They will know what is going on and want to help.”