Youth football: Lodi Colts back in business with new league

Colts players shake hands with Lodi BOBS board member to thank them for their efforts to keep the Colts playing.

Today, two of the Lodi Colts’ youth football teams will be in action at the Grape Bowl just days after the program was voted out of the Central Valley Football and Cheer League for violating the league’s rules and code of conduct.

With the season salvaged, the question still remains: Will the program have a home in 2020 and beyond?

The Lodi’s Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports, which oversees the Lodi Colts, announced late Thursday that its board of directors have agreed to play in the Northern California Youth Football and Cheer League for the rest of the season. The Colts played in this league last year before joining the newly formed Central Valley League in 2019.

Carl Wilson, commissioner of the NCYFC, met with the BOBS board members on Thursday night to reach an agreement allowing the Colts’ four teams to compete in the league for the remainder of this season.

“We felt the kids were being punished for adults who made mistakes and that didn’t sit well with us, and we needed to make it right,” a statement from the BOBS reads. “We are grateful to Mr. Wilson and NCYFC for opening their doors and welcoming the Colts back into their league. We dealt with some issues within our program internally and the teams and excited to be able to finish their respective seasons.”

The NCYFC was aware that the Colts had been suspended from their previous league. The Lodi Junior Flames and Lodi Titans’ youth football and cheerleading squads are also members of the CVFYC. The league voted 8-0 in favor of ousting the Colts during a meeting last Monday.

Rob Salcido, chairman of the board for the CVFYC, said the Colts were suspended from the league for “multiple violations ranging from code of conduct, fighting, ineligible players, lack of leadership, etc.”

“(Monday’s) vote was very hard for me since not all the kids are bad and don’t deserve it,” Salcido wrote in an email to the News-Sentinel, “but having no leadership and no accountability put not only their kids at risk but ours as well.”

Salcido also noted that a fight that took place last weekend at the Grape Bowl between parents of the Colts and Modesto Raiders, who are part of the CVFYC, led to a two-week suspension of a Raiders mother who was involved in the fight.

That fight was one of three that the Colts have been involved in through eight games this season, Salcido noted. There were two fights on the field and one in the stands during Colts’ varsity and junior varsity games.

“We can only do so much,” Salcido said. “We talked about the suspensions, let’s get through the season. But you just can’t turn a blind eye. After a while, things have to be handled. We’re protecting the kids. We sanctioned them many times.”

Salcido also denied giving the Colts permission to allow a Bear Creek High junior varsity football player — a 14-year-old freshman at the campus — play on the youth football program’s varsity team. Bear Creek folded its junior varsity football program in late September due to a lack of players.

“They said I gave them the green light, and that is 100 percent false,” Salcido said.

Salcido said that there are some players from Venture Academy High, which is in Stockton, on some of the youth varsity football teams if they are 14. Once they turn 15, the player is ineligible to play for any youth football team in the CVFYC.

“It’s for kids that are still progressing and can’t make their high school team,” Salcido said of the league’s bylaw. “That is the thing we have been telling them. Some kids go to Venture Academy and they play youth football for a year.

Salcido also said that the Colts’ four cheer squads can still take part in the league competition that will be held later this month.

“We haven’t had issues with them,” Salcido said of the cheer squads.

The Colts’ program can petition to return to the CVFYC before the 2021 season.

Salcido said he wishes the Colts success the rest of the season in the NCYFC and beyond.

Contact Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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