Gridiron Gangs: New season, league begins

Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat /

The Mother Lode Valley Football League kicked off its inaugural football seasonMondaywith its first two-a-day practices.

The newly-established league consists of former Mother Lode Youth Athletics Conference members: Angels Camp Murphys Arnold (AMA) Jr. Bullfrogs, Amador Jr. Buffalos, Argonaut Jr. Mustangs, Calaveras Jr. Redskins, Sonora Jr. Cats and Tuolumne Bears.

The league also added a collection of new teams from the valley: Escalon Outlaws, Hughson Huskies, Ripon Chiefs, Riverbank Raiders and Waterford Sabercats.

"A couple teams from down in the valley approached our league about coming up here," President of Tuolumne Youth Football and Cheer Brian Tartar said. "They were looking for a new league to get into. They matched up better with our schools instead of Oakdale, Manteca and the bigger schools."

With an 11-team league, the Motherlode Valley Football League was able to split the teams into two separate divisions.

The old Mother Lode Youth Athletics Conference teams will form the Mother Lode Division. And the new teams will be the Valley Division.

"Everybody took it as a positive," Tartar said. "It's just nice to get some new blood in there and play someone different."

Each team will play each other only once, instead of facing off against the same team twice a season like in the past.

The top two teams with the best win-loss record from each division will advance to the playoffs. The Superbowl will pit the top two teams left standing, after the playoffs, from their respective division.

"It's a win-win for both sides," Tartar said. "A lot better competition. It made us have a few more games."

In the nine-week season, each team will play: one jamboree game, three preseason games and five regular season games.

Playoffs beginOct. 26, and the Superbowl is onNov. 9at AMA. Week 1 is scheduled forAug. 24.

"Hopefully everything pans out the way its supposed to," Tartar said. "And it succeeds many roads down below."

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