Union Democrat staff

Sonora Youth Football’s Junior Cats begin practicing for a new season Saturday with an all-day clinic at Columbia Elementary School’s upper field.

The clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jeff Scott, varsity coach and president of the Foothill Youth Football League, said 75 football players and 60 cheerleaders have signed up to participate.

Football and cheer are broken into four teams, the Mighty Mites ages 7 and 8, Bantam ages 9 and 10, Junior Varsity ages 11 and 12, and Varsity ages 13 and 14.

Scott said the Sonora Youth Football and Cheer elected to rejoin the Foothill League after four years as part of Mother Lode Valley Football League.

Sonora will play Amador, Argonaut, Tuolumne and teams in the combined Angels Camp, Murphys and Arnold areas.

Scott said participation is down a bit from five years ago, but about average for the past few years.

He said safety for the young athletes is paramount. Every coach is required to take online training courses before they are allowed onto the field. Courses include up-to-date injury prevention, heat illness prevention and concussion prevention.

They also learn how to determine whether a child has a concussion and how to treat it. All adults are required to have a background check.

Practices will be held Monday through Friday at Columbia Elementary until the first game Aug. 26. Once games begin, practices will be held three days a week.

There is an all-league Jamboree Aug. 19, when Amador, Argonaut, AMA, Tuolumne and Sonora will scrimmage at Sonora High School.

The Junior Cats have a bye week for the league’s first games, making their first competition Sept. 2.