Published January 3, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE—The 2012-13 school year has been busy for the Our Lady of Mercy High School community. The school has a new principal, growing enrollment, the football team in the playoffs—and a program with 112 youth football players between the ages of 7 and 14.
Since arriving at school three years ago, Coach Mike Earwood has conveyed the message that great football programs have feeder systems. And the Bobcat Youth Football League was created, with the goal of challenging young men to uncover their unique skills and talents by working together as a team. Football players in the program are being impacted physically, mentally and spiritually. The goal is to win on Saturdays while being winners in life through focus on academics, faith and service to others. The consensus is that the youth Bobcat movement is well on its way to success.
Our Lady of Mercy’s new Bobcat Youth League started with seven teams. Here the 10-year-olds’ football team prepares to run through the Faith/Focus/Finish banner.
In its first year, the youth program delivered seven strong teams reflecting diversity, discipline, structure, learning and a great desire for success. Under the ultimate direction of Earwood, qualified and committed coaches and parents, the 2012 season saw young men begin to learn OLM’s systems and how to be successful student athletes on and off the field once at Mercy.
With OLM’s centralized location, the program attracted families and young men from Fayette, Henry, Clayton, Coweta and Fulton counties. When OLM athletic director Bill Schmitz and youth football program manager Clint Browning began putting the foundation in place they envisioned two or three teams in the first year. By the end of this season, six of the seven teams made the playoffs, two won regular season championships and three went on to enjoy post-season success in Holiday Bowl games.
The 2012 season has come to an end, but organizers of the Mercy youth program are looking forward to learning from first-year challenges, improving on shortcomings and continuing to build a pipeline of student athletes for OLM High School.
Browning said, “We have work to do, but we simply want families and young men willing to live the youth program’s statements of standard: character, confidence, commitment and faith, focus, finish.”
For more information about the Bobcat Youth Football League, visit http://mercyyouthfootball.weebly.com/.