This Scott Carrell is an interesting guy.
An Air Force Academy graduate who remains a lieutenant colonel in the USAF reserves, Carrell is an associate professor of economics at UC Davis. He also serves as the Aggie faculty athletics representative.
He’s coached more than 25 youth teams over the years and has a bunch of interesting on- and off-field tales to tell.
But this article isn’t about the new Davis Junior Blue Devils President Carrell. It’s about the local youth tackle football program. This story is about the kids. With Carrell, it seems it’s always about the children …
“First, I have to give props to my wife, Susie, who is a counselor at Birch Lane Elementary,” Carrell told The Enterprise. “She does a nice job of training me in how to interact with the kids.
“She would say, ‘Our goal is make them healthy, happy human beings who are productive in society.’ So that’s the goal I always have (for the players on) my teams.
“From a football standpoint? Junior Blue Devils comes after your family, after your school. Football is a third priority.”
Carrell, who coaches the Junior Devils’ U11 team, says his organization can help youths grow in myriad ways.
The coaches are certified, caring community members who mentor the kids on a number of fronts, points out Carrell, who played a year of football at the Air Force Academy and knows first-hand the demands on a student-athlete.
“We tell the parents … if your child is having an issue here, or at school, or home, our coaches are here to help you,” Carrell says. He adds that the 100-plus Junior Devils “are a special group of kids … and our coaches can help whenever there is a problem.”
A member of the Sacramento Youth Football League, Davis plays in a nine-team division that includes teams from Cordova, Pleasant Grove and regions that feed into Sheldon, Sacramento, Burbank and Inderkum high schools.
The Devils play home games at Brown Stadium on campus at Davis High — and for the first time this year will practice at Holmes Junior High.
Carrell says more space and better field conditions were the reasons for the venue change from Emerson Junior High.
Cheerleading and football practices begin this week with sessions going from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays at Holmes.
For the gridiron participants, these first gatherings are non-contact. “Basic refresher drills,” as Carrell calls them. The following week, the Devils will don the pads before an Aug. 9 scrimmage. A football jamboree Aug. 16 gives a hint of what to expect during the regular season, which begins Aug. 23 at sites to be announced.
“Our numbers (of players) are pretty much where they were last year,” the president believes. “We could use some additional kids at U14 and U8 … but in the next couple of weeks, we should see some more sign up.”
Family vacations, it seems, get in the way of early workouts.
“The one thing, if I could change something about youth football, I would shift the season back and start it when the school year starts … because it cuts into about half of the summer,” Carrell adds.
Along the way this season, the little Devils will play their Sept. 20 home games at Aggie Stadium at UCD and have a year-end party at the Nov. 1 UC Davis game versus Northern Colorado. It is Junior Blue Devil Day at the Aggies (featuring a pre-game barbecue for members of the youth squads and their families).
Carrell says the DJBD are “deeply appreciative” of how UCD head coach Ron Gould and Athletics Director Terry Tumey have embraced the youth program: “Ron Gould and his staff are just fantastic. He’s invited the kids to come out and watch practice. We’ll make that happen as the season rolls on.”
It costs $300 to play for DJBD. The deadline for sign-ups is Aug. 10 and Carrell says scholarships and payment plans are available.
“We don’t want to make the cost prohibitive,” Carrell continues. “We’ll work with people on payments.”
So why play football?
“I think it’s the greatest game,” the UCD professor offers. “It teaches discipline, fitness, teamwork and — unlike any other sport — everybody, regardless of size, speed or ability, can find a position.”
Carrell, like many other local youth coaches, tells his team’s parents “Your son will be a starter. Maybe on offense, maybe on defense, maybe on special teams. But he will have an essential role for this team.
“I played the game through 19 and never scored a touchdown, never touched the football, but it was the (most fun) thing I ever did.
“It built my confidence and developed me into who I am.”
Now, Carrell and his Junior Blue Devil colleagues hope the far-reaching effects of football participation will reach deep into the Davis community.
Notes: Davis Little League President Paul Hasson is the U8 head coach. “He should be Citizen of the Year in Davis for all he does for the kids,” notes Carrell. Other coaches are Paul Buller (U14), Craig Barksdale (U12) and UCD junior Jose Negrete (U10). “Sacramento Youth Football, I think, is on the leading edge in coaches’ training and attention to safety,” Carrell continues. “To be a coach, you have to go through fingerprinting, background check and a certification course (which includes instruction in tackling technique, concussion protocol, X’s and O’s.)” Carrell also believes his board does a terrific job identifying qualified coaches in the first place. …Under the guidance of Kim Griffiths and Jia-Min Rosendale, the DJBD have an award-winning cheer squad that has more than 40 members again this fall. “This group has doubled in size over the past three or four years and Kim does a great job every year,” praises Carrell, who replaced John Griffiths as president this season. …For registration information, visit www.juniorbluedevils.com.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.