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By Brian Bergner Jr.

Larson Newspapers

A few years back, Sedona resident Scott Gilbert realized a perfect opportunity was upon him and he along with many other supporters began to work toward a mutual dream.

Three years later, the Red Rock Youth Football program is bigger than ever. This past weekend more than 40 local youth football kids participated in the second annual Red Rock Youth Football Clinic.

“This year we wanted to make it fun for the kids. We’re marketing any way possible and when you have so many kids new to the game of football, we needed to make sure the weekend was well worth it,” Gilbert said.

The “fun,” as Gilbert calls it, began on Saturday, May 16, when a few dozen kids showed up after lunch with cleats in hand and grubby old T-shirts that only a dad would be proud of.

Gilbert and his coaching staff went to work on the kids early, and with the help of volunteer coaches Tony Hauserman, John Johnson and Jeff Rescigno, along with Sedona Red Rock High freshman football player Jack Johnson and RRYF products Zane Saxman and Keenan Crans, good work was getting done at a fast pace.

“More than 40 pairs of eyes carefully watched the coaching staff instruct technical tackling, passing drills, catching drills and other fundamental aspects of the game, and then the kids were given the chance to act out what they saw.

After a few drills, teams were picked like a sandlot game and players got to actually play the game, flag football style.

Day two on Sunday, May 17, had plenty of repetition in place and the big football dummies and shields, which the kids used as their tackling prey, littered the field.

Sunday would be mostly passing and catching, working on route running, looking the football into their small hands and turning up field like their favorite Arizona Cardinal.

When it was time to settle in, players took a knee around their coaches and clapped it up on another well spent weekend under the sun, learning how to play the game they love.

League Update

In their third year of existence, the Red Rock Youth Football program will have more kids with experience than any other year.

This coming fall more than 25 kids are expected to play with one, two or three years of experience in tackle football under their belts, a far cry from one or two kids back in 2006.

“I think this will be the best year we’ve ever had. We’re putting things together nicely here in the program — we even have board meetings now; we’ve gone official,” Gilbert laughed.

The majors team this fall should have 21 to 23 kids in uniform with the minors club sporting 16 to 17 and the mighty mites recording nearly 20 potential recruits.

At the junior high level with Big Park Community School and West Sedona School combining for their second season starting in August, more than a dozen players with experience have already signed up.

What Gilbert is most proud of, however, is watching the program grow, and with at least four coaches at every level this coming season along with 80-plus players involved, he’s sure they can succeed.

“This was my vision from the beginning. Everyone has worked hard to make this happen and it is happening right here in Sedona,” Gilbert said.

The Red Rock Youth Football program has also joined a new league this coming season called the Northern Arizona Youth Football league.

The league consists of eight teams including Sedona, Flagstaff, Williams, Chino Valley, Cottonwood, Bagdad, Prescott Valley and Camp Verde.

In the process of all this, Gilbert still found time back in April to attend a few physical education classes at West Sedona in grades four to six to teach kids how to catch and throw the football.

“I just wanted to thank Dr. Lisa Hirsch and Steve Gardner for allowing us to help promote football within our schools here in Sedona,” Gilbert said.


The Red Rock Youth Football league is still taking sign-ups through Monday, June 1, at $75 a player. Any sign-ups after June 1 will be $100.

Scholarships are available and will be decided on a case by case basis.

If interested in joining the Red Rock Youth Football program, call Gilbert at 399-0459 or Eric Mikulewicz at 301-2536. For Spanish speakers, call Pedro Ortega at 821-5445.


Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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