Junior Tackle: Tackle football teams kick off new season

Rochelle Junior Tackle kicked off the 2022 season on Monday, with tackle football players suiting up and taking the field at Helms Park for their first day of practice. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Practices began Monday evening at Helms Park

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Junior Tackle kicked off the 2022 season on Monday, with tackle football players suiting up and taking the field at Helms Park for their first day of practice. Rochelle will host Sterling in Week 1 on Saturday, Aug. 13, with games beginning at 10 a.m.

Over 110 athletes have signed up for tackle football this season. Rochelle will field four teams at the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade levels this season, with practices running Monday through Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Helms Park. The eighth and fifth-grade teams are looking to defend their Big 14 Conference Championship titles, while the sixth and seventh-grade teams are seeking to improve on their second and third-place finishes in the conference last season. 

“We’re really close to the numbers we had last year,” RJT President Derek Johnson said. “Our fifth-grade numbers are better than they were last year and I’m excited about that. It’s nice to see our kids back on the field. They learn a lot of life lessons throughout their time with our program. We understand that kids grow at different rates and it’s always exciting to see our kids stick with the program. They learn a lot about teamwork and they learn a lot about the game.”

The tackle football schedule runs through Saturday, Oct. 1 and includes eight games against Sterling, Princeton, DuPec, Stillman Valley, Dixon, Byron, Rockton and Oregon. Throughout their time with the Rochelle Junior Tackle program, athletes learn the skills and lessons that will prepare them for future success with the Rochelle Township High School football program.

“The kids learn how to support each other,” Johnson said. “It makes us feel proud to see our kids succeed. Between our board and our volunteers, our coaches do a tremendous job and they’ve been through the high school program so they understand how to instill those skills at the youth level. Seeing our numbers translate over to the high-school level is important to us. We’re a fundamental football league and when the success comes, it’s exciting to see.”

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