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Young Eagles in training

Jr. Golden Eagles Midgets have strong season, dream of playing for Del Oro High
By: Eric J. Gourley, Gold Country News Service
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Tyler Meteer watched his older brother climb the Sierra Youth Football League ranks and graduate to a prolific varsity career at Del Oro High. The eighth-grader is eagerly awaiting his chance to do the same. Meteer is a star linebacker with the Junior Golden Eagles Midgets, the eldest of five SYFL divisions. The league serves as the primary feeder for area high school football teams. “That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Clif Poulson, head coach of the Midgets. “Our goal is to get these kids ready to play at Del Oro. That’s the ultimate thing. We’re a starter program for them. Right now we’re just trying to teach them basic fundamentals. When they enter high school we want them to be the most prepared class they’ve had.” These Midgets fit the criteria. They’ve won 18 straight games, including their 11-0 championship campaign as Junior Midgets last fall. They allowed only 22 total points in those 11 games. This season, the Midgets have posted six shutouts in seven victories, allowing their only touchdown in a 14-8 win over the American River Junior Raiders three weeks ago. “We’re pretty strong,” Poulson said. “There are some really good players on this team. The majority of them probably started about three years ago.” The SYFL’s youngest athletes are the Mighty Mites, featuring kids as young as six years old. “You’re doing it for fun at that level,” Poulson said. “If dad thinks you’re going to be a star in high school, at that level it’s all for daddy. The difference between the kids that are good there to here is huge. There are certain kids who are good all the way through, but there are certain kids who grow or don’t grow, and there are certain kids who were fat there who aren’t fat here.” Midget linebacker Tanner Woods entered the league in fourth grade as a Pee-Wee, the middle of the five divisions, while other kids his age played as Junior Pee-Wees. “I was a little bit heavier than everyone else so I had to play up,” Woods said. “All the guys who are sophomores at Del Oro playing JV are the guys I played with on my first Pee-Wee team.” After missing two years with appendicitis and a broken thumb, Woods is back as a Midget in the best shape of his young career. He dropped from 220 to 200 pounds through mixed martial arts training. “If he went one-on-one with anybody in the league I think he could beat anybody,” Poulson said. Woods anchors the offensive and defensive lines. On offense, he paves the way for tailback Dylan Kainrath and provides protection for quarterback Alec Moen. Meteer is another leader on both sides of the ball, taking after his brother Andrew, a 2008 Del Oro graduate. Andrew had a team-best six interceptions and caught 20 passes for 367 yards during Del Oro’s 11-2 season in 2007. “After I saw him play (SYFL) I knew this would help me get ready for high school,” said Tyler, who’s been a part of the SYFL for four years. “I started playing and I really liked it.” All but one of the Midgets will be trying out for the Del Oro freshman team next fall. The Junior Eagle Midgets travel to play the Rocklin Junior Thunder Saturday in their penultimate regular season game. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot. Del Oro’s Mighty Mites (2-5), Junior Pee-Wees (5-2), Pee-Wees (4-3) and Junior Midgets (1-6) will also be in action this weekend.