Junior Tackle: Youth football players back in action

2021 season kicks off against Sterling on Aug. 14

Russell Hodges
Posted 8/4/21

Rochelle Junior Tackle President Derek Johnson was encouraged to see strong participation numbers when practices kicked off for the upcoming fall season this year. After not having a 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson has been excited to see local fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-graders suiting up and returning to the gridiron again.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Junior Tackle: Youth football players back in action

2021 season kicks off against Sterling on Aug. 14

Posted

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Junior Tackle President Derek Johnson was encouraged to see strong participation numbers when practices kicked off for the upcoming fall season this year. After not having a 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson has been excited to see local fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-graders suiting up and returning to the gridiron again.

“A lot of these kids have been waiting for a long time,” Johnson said. “Many of these kids went through all of last year without playing any sports. Seeing them be out there with their friends and enjoying the activities is really exciting. Our numbers show that everybody was getting ready to come back. I don’t think our numbers have dropped off at all from the 2019 season.”

The RJT tackle football program held its first week of practices recently, with the RJT season-openers against Sterling scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 14 on the road. Roughly 125 players have signed up to participate in tackle football this fall. The season kicked off with the RJT camp at Rochelle Township High School and the RJT coaching clinic, also held at RTHS. After receiving their equipment this past month, players will bring home their uniforms this coming week.

“We’re on track to have a normal season,” Johnson said. “In talking with our conference president, it sounds like everything will be as normal as it could be. We haven’t heard of any restrictions on visiting venues or anything like that… We’re planning to have a normal season.”

The RJT fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade tackle football teams will play seven games against Sterling, Princeton, Stillman Valley, Dixon, Byron, Rockton and Oregon, with the regular season concluding at Oregon on Oct. 4. RJT will hold its picture day on Aug. 20 and its season-ending banquet on Oct. 14. RTHS will host its annual RJT Night on Friday, Sept. 3.

“The RJT camp at RTHS helps our program tremendously and the coaching clinic is a great way for our coaches to come together and learn the system,” Johnson said. “It helps a lot that we know the system they run at the high school and they’re able to pass that system down to us at the Junior Tackle level. If we can keep our kids engaged here, it will speak volumes in the numbers we’re hoping to see as we move forward over the next several years.”