By Lemor Abrams

DAVIS (CBS13) — A youth football program in Davis has canceled its 2018 season after enrollment dropped amid concerns about player safety.

For years, the Junior Blue Devils program in Davis has been a proud family tradition.

“Football has just been one of those things I grew up in. My dad played college football at UC Davis,” said Ethan Iacono.

And Iacono followed. He played football at Davis High, and soon in college. He feels, with proper training, the sport can have great benefits.

“The life lessons—you get knocked down you get back up, don’t cry when something doesn’t go your way, tough it out,” he said.

“They’re motivated to say that,” said Jacqueline Evans.

Evans is a mom to 10-year-old twins and a pediatric physician in the ICU.
Her boys played flag football last year. But she’s not about to let them play tackle football.

“Playing tackle football puts kids at risk, and when the brain gets injured, it’s unrecoverable,” she said.

Evans isn’t alone. More and more Davis parents are making the same decision for their kids. For the first time ever, enrollment in the Junior Blue Devils has dropped so much, the program’s been suspended this year.

“The concern is always over the c-word—concussion,” said Iacono.

Many parents say it’s a result of more information. New medical studies have raised awareness about the connection between football and long-term brain injuries.

“You know sports are inherently dangerous,” said Steve Smyte.

But Smyte -Head football coach at Davis High-says, football’s never been safer thanks to high -tech helmets and new coaching techniques. And he says it’s resulted in greater interest in high school football.

“Actually our numbers have increased over the last year… I think what we need is restructuring at the junior level,” he said.

He says it’s one step… to save America’s favorite sport.

The Junior Blue Devils organizers are holding an informational night for parents Sunday, July 15th. from 6:00 to 7:00 pm at the Davis High School team room.

Here is the letter that went out to parents:

DJBD Football and Cheer Families:

We are writing to you with extreme sadness that DJBD will have to cancel the 2018 Fall Tackle Football season. This was an extremely difficult and heart wrenching decision. Our DJBD board and parents worked tirelessly to recruit new players and explore many options so that our players could play this season. Unfortunately, for the safety of our players, the financial hardship on the DJBD organization and the need of consistency for all teams, we will be forced to take a season off at all levels (8U, 10U, 12U and 14U). We are confident that we will be back for the 2019 season. We are all Blue Devils and will need everyone’s help moving forward.

Because of the difficulty of this decision, we will be holding a parents information night this Sunday, July 15th from 6:00 to 7:00 pm at the Davis High School team room to hear your desires for next year. Our treasurer will be on hand to process any refunds due to you. If not able to attend, your refund will be timely processed using the method the original payment was made. The 2019 season registration will again re- open 1/1/19 through 6/15/19.

In preparation for 2019, DJBD will continue our recruiting efforts by hosting a series of football and cheer training camps. These will likely be at the high school from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and will come with a DJBD football jersey or a DJBD Cheer bow. Cost will be only $30 for all 4 camps. If you were already signed up for fall football/cheer and would like to participate in the camps, please email paul.hasson@yahoo.com to reserve your spot today. Clinics will be open to the first 125 players/cheerleaders, ages 6 (years old) through 8th graders. Dates will be August 26th, September 23rd, October 14th and October 21st.

For families that wish to play tackle in the fall, our friends at Pioneer jr. Patriots, Woodland jr. Wolves and Woodland Christian Jr. Cardinals have invited any of our players to join them until we can increase our participation rate next season. Please feel free to reach out to your coach(es) or any board member for recommendations.

We sincerely appreciate all your time, effort and sacrifices. We hope that by taking the 2018 season off we can recruit even harder, increase the awareness that football has never been more safe, and give families more time to budget for football. We are still committed to the health of our youth, the incredible life skills learned from playing football and cheer, and preparing our youth for DHS Blue Devil football and cheer.

Sincerely,

DJBD Board of Directors

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