Peewee football to move to Ipe Field
The vote was unanimous to continue to play in the city.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Northeastern Ohio Youth Football League teams will continue to play games in the city, but they'll go back to Ipe Field.
Some parents within the league, which includes teams in the city, the Mahoning County suburbs and Howland, had reconsidered sending their children to play at fields in the city after a man was fatally shot Aug. 19 during a peewee football game at the former South High School stadium.
The teams playing when the shooting occurred were part of the Volney Rogers Youth Football League.
"Youth football will continue to be played in the city of Youngstown, and in my mind there was never a question of that," Mayor Jay Williams said at a news conference Thursday at Ipe Field, Midlothian Boulevard.
The games will move from the South High stadium to Ipe Field and the police department will provide security at the games, the mayor said. The logistics are still being worked out.
"But this is about the kids, so you're not going to see armed guards along the sidelines," he said.
Will begin at Ipe on Saturday
The games will move to Ipe Field beginning Saturday when the Austintown Little Falcons will face the Wilson Little Red Men.
"The Little Red Men will still have a home field in the city of Youngstown," Williams said.
The change is an example of representatives of the city and suburbs working together, he said.
The teams played at Ipe Field before moving to the former South High stadium several years ago, said Juan Serrano, Little Red Men president. He said his team benefits from the decision, by not having to travel farther to play games.
Councilman Artis Gillam Sr., D-1st, said the Aug. 19 shooting was an isolated event.
"It could have happened anywhere in the U.S.; it just so happened to be in Youngstown," he said.
Dave Matz, president of the league and the Little Spartans of Boardman, said it's been a stressful issue for the teams involved, but a vote Wednesday night among league members was unanimous to continue to play in the city.
The league and city officials worked together to keep games in Youngstown. The league also plays at fields throughout Mahoning County, including in Boardman and Austintown.
"There are 1,100 cheerleaders and football players in the league, and starting Saturday, we're putting this issue to rest and starting to stress the positive."
He said no teams or players have left the league since the shooting, and instead, some players have been added.
"We all believe in the league that youth sports is about teaching our kids real-life lessons," said Dominic Imburgia, league vice president. "The decision to keep games in Youngstown is an example of that."