USA Football
2014 Season Schedule and Results
Combine Shows KFL's Growth

With the Kids Football League in just its second year of existence, more than 400 youth football players showed up to participate in the organization's annual combine on Saturday at Steele Stadium on the Kentucky Wesleyan College campus.

The combine, which consisted of drills to determine the skill level of each player, served as a chance to make sure the league - made up of 12 flag football squads, six 3rd-4th grade tackle teams and seven 5th-6th grade tackle teams - is fairly balanced across the board.

KFL officials expect at least 50 more players from last year, who were not required to participate in the combine, to compete this season

"Last year we had around 380, now we've gone up to around 450," KFL president Todd Humphreys said. "We didn't know what to expect, honestly, but at least what we had last year plus some. We've added a total of seven teams from last year, so that's some good growth."

On hand to help run the players through drills were former NFL players Malcolm Sheppard and Jim Breech, as part of KFL's partnership with the NFL Heads Up program. Sheppard was a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, and Breech played in two Super Bowls with the Cincinnati Bengals and remains the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

"They were with the kids all day," Humphreys said. "They were working with them, and everybody had a blast. You don't know, when the NFL sends them down, how it's going to be, but these guys had a great time. They've already asked if they can come back next year. ...

"Typically NFL ambassadors cover their area - Malcolm lives in Nashville and Jim lives in Cincinnati - but since Kentucky doesn't have an NFL team, they sent those guys down. They called us about a month ago and said they would send an ambassador, and they ended up sending two, so that was really cool."

KFL officials emphasized the importance of safety training and certification among its coaches and volunteers before ever working with the players, adding that having the NFL's help plays a big role in that.

"We're trying to raise the level of play," KFL co-founder Travis Chaney said. "Affiliating with the NFL, with their program on how to teach it properly and safely, we were able to tap into some players who are ambassadors, and that meets our goal.

"We're raising the level here, as far as the profile of football locally, but more importantly, we're getting these kids who want to be engaged - we're teaching them the fundamentals and safety."

The league is also partnered with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Kidcentric Sports, Chaney added, to encourage the kids off the field as well. The players are given incentives to perform well in the classroom and do well at home, he said, and the league holds a month-long "pink-out" to benefit the American Cancer Society, as well as donating a portion of their gate sales at games, to show the players the importance of giving.

"We're really trying to teach our kids about life, and play some solid football at the same time," Chaney said.

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