VALDOSTA — When the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority began its school-based youth football league in 2013, there were about 10 competing teams.

Four years later, that number has tripled.

Hahira, J.L. Newbern and Valdosta were represented schools at Saturday’s VLPRA flag and tackle football championships at Martin Stadium.

“Not only has our football program grown, but our cheerleading program has grown, as well,” VLPRA executive director George Page said. “We continue to grow. We’re excited about the growth of our programs.”

Page said growth has been made possible by support from Valdosta City Schools, Lowndes County Schools and Georgia Christian School. He said support from school and community leaders such as Lowndes coach and athletic director Randy McPherson and Valdosta coach Alan Rodemaker have allowed the league to thrive in a way it might not in another part of the state.

“Everybody in this community is working from the same playbook to help the kids in our community,” Page said.

The partnership between the VLPRA and community leaders enables kids to watch a varsity game on a Friday night, then come back the next day to play in the same stadium.

“A kindergartener being able to play in a high school stadium, we just can’t take that for granted,” Page said. “A lot of communities don’t allow that.”

Saturday’s games were divided between tackle and flag, with each division having its own subdivision of championships: silver and gold.

In the kindergarten-first grade silver flag championship, Newbern Black topped Hahira White 14-9. Newbern White blanked Hahira Crimson 13-0 in the gold game.

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