Arcadia High School’s football program has a new little brother: Arcadia Junior Titans Youth Football Association, which will be the official feeder for the Titans.
Arcadia joins a handful of Valley high schools that have official feeder teams. Junior Titans Head Coach Grant Sanders outlined some of the benefits of feeder programs:
“They run the same plays, dialed down times 10, camaraderie is built between the two levels and practice and games are on the same fields that the high school plays,” Sanders said. Arcadia’s fields will feel like home to the players when they get to high school.
There are also many shared events between the high school and youth.
“The kids join the high school in running out of the tunnel during pre-games and walk with the homecoming parade,” Sanders said. “It also affords the youth players to have first-hand exposure to a position role model playing at the high school level.”
The idea for the official feeder team came from a post-game discussion among Arcadia High’s coaches. Sanders, John Blanks, Rito Lopez, Matthew Richardson, Larry Jones and Mike LaVallee wanted to form a team that displayed the same beliefs they shared and instill a love of the game to Arcadia’s youth.
Sanders is very involved with youth sports. In addition to coaching both the Junior Titans and Arcadia High’s junior varsity team, he also serves as the safety officer for Arcadia Little League Baseball, commissioner for one division and manager of two other divisions.
He is partly driven by the role coaches have played in his life, filling a void created at a young age when his father died in a tragic accident.
“I want to be that father figure for those who need it. If I can give back even a quarter of what they gave to me, I will really think I’m doing something good,” Sanders said. “I want to be that guy in everything I do.”
Sanders is a third-generation Arcadian and second-generation Arcadia High coach. His grandfather coached the baseball team. His father started coaching football in 1975.
Sanders ran track, played baseball and played football at Arcadia. When he got out of the Navy in 2008, he came back and became a coach. If you’re looking for him, you’ll find him on the field.
The Junior Titans offer several youth tackle teams for ages 9-12 and an unweighted tackle team for junior high students ages 12-14. Official practices begin in August with the first game played the last Saturday of August. For more: arcadiatitansfootball.com.