GREEN BAY - This is the first year of football for Green Bay’s five middle schools and Thursday was the first game for two east side schools.
When Edison 8th grader Caleb Finley heard his school was going to have a football team, he knew he had some work to do.
“It's really exciting,” said Finley. “Last year I couldn't play because of my grades, but this is going to help me keep my grades because otherwise I couldn't play.”
Finley says his mom wouldn't let him play for the Green Bay Bulldogs as a 7th grader because of his grades. That club team and several others dissolved after the Green Bay School District launched a middle school football program.
“I thought that was a better idea because then you got to play with people that you know,” said Christian Cantu, an 8th grade linebacker for Edison.
This was the first of six scheduled games for both the Edison Eagles and Red Smith Raptors.
“This year we only play against our brother and sister Green Bay schools, but after this we hope to enter the Brown County league,” said Matt Weller, the athletic director and associate principal at Edison.
While the 8th graders squared off, the 7th grade teams have to wait. Red Smith only had nine players who practiced enough to play in a game.
“We are working on getting our numbers up right now,” said David Monfils, the athletic director at Red Smith.
Members of Red Smith's 7th grade team spent the week recruiting classmates to play. The team now has 15 players out of 79 7th grade boys at Red Smith. The 8th grade squad has 22 players. Edison's squads have more than double those amounts.
“Our next game is on Tuesday, so we feel a little more comfortable with the number we have now, but it's a matter of getting those practices in so that they're ready to be on the field and getting them conditioned to play football,” said Monfils.
The players say they've enjoyed the new program so far and have plenty to look forward to.
“It's all friends, it's fun,” said Finely. “We get to hit, we get to make plays, we get to score touchdowns.”
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