It was a ‘mitey’ good start to the football season |

It was a ‘mitey’ good start to the football season

Steve Yingling

Few days out of the year compare to the opening weekend of football season.

Whether you are an NFL junkie, a college football fanatic or a high school loyalist, the game entertains fans in ways that other major sports can’t replicate: A shoestring tackle, a back following a wedge of blockers all the way across the goal line, an end zone dance, a flea flicker or an option pass that works to perfection, a quarterback sack from the blind side and ornery fans second-guessing coaches with unrestrained banter.

If not for the annoying lull between plays, football would be the perfect game.

Naturally, I couldn’t contain myself last Saturday, not with college football season only five days off and South Tahoe and Whittell’s high school openers only a week away. I needed some football and I was willing to travel.

The lure was the Pop Warner Jamboree at Carson High School in Carson City. There wasn’t a parking spot for several blocks around the school, so obviously some other football fans had the same idea. Patience and some creative parking ensured that I wouldn’t miss too much of the action.

The price was right, too. Only $5 to watch eight hours of football and work on the final sunburn of the summer.

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One “mitey” team stood out in the 10 games or so that were going on every 30 minutes. I couldn’t stop watching those tiny mites.

Football players and adorable are never used in the same sentence, but with these kindergarten-aged children an exception had to be made.

If you’ve ever attended a Little League T-ball game, you know what I’m talking about. A 5-year-old only has so much patience for learning how to play a new game. Eventually, they’d rather try to catch a grasshopper or twirl around until they become dizzy and collapse on the grass.

Can you imagine Denver Broncos’ coach Mike Shanahan trying to coach 20 rambunctious children on a Saturday afternoon? Of course he’d have to warm up at some point and let them sit on their helmets.

Head coach Shane Davis and his assistant coaches should be applauded for their patience and efforts in assembling South Lake Tahoe’s first tiny mite team for 5- to 7-year-olds last Saturday.

I’ve always wondered what happened to all the tiny helmets that I bought for a quarter next to the gum ball machine when I was little. However, I was deeply disappointed when not one child put on helmet backward.

Heck in Little League, some T-ballers started out by running to third base instead of first and one kid even put his glove on the wrong hand. But this was football. Surely these kids were smarter.

At least the local coaches didn’t have to pick up their players and carry them over to the correct position on the field like the Fallon coaches did. But South Lake Tahoe did have a player who couldn’t for the life of him figure out how his belt worked. At least his pants stayed up through his final game.

I don’t know if any of the high school coaches were watching, but there was one kid who hit so hard that he must be watching NFL classic film of Ronnie Lott instead of “The Rugrats.” A Fallon boy came right of his shoes after taking the hit. Upon further review, I think the ballcarrier just needed to tie his shoes better.

Unfortunately, the tiny mites are off this Labor Day weekend. They’ll be getting ready for their season opener on Sept. 10 on the Field of Dreams in South Lake Tahoe.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for the varsity coaching debut of Nick Samaras at South Tahoe High on Saturday. I’m hoping a tiny mite game breaks out during halftime.

I’ve never laughed so much watching a football game.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or