Featured SPORTS

Pop Warner prepares for new season 

The 2023 Scripps Ranch Pop Warner Football and Cheer Association season starts with practices Aug. 1 and games on Aug. 26. (photo by John Gregory)

Pop Warner prepares for new season 

By Hector Trujillo

With practices beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 1 and games starting on Saturday, Aug. 26, the Scripps Ranch Pop Warner Football and Cheer Association (SRPW) hopes to have another successful season.

“Pop Warner in San Diego is experiencing significant growth,” said President Gary Harrison. “There are more teams and athletes competing in the San Diego Pop Warner league than ever before. If you think your athlete will want to play football at some point in their youth, then there are some benefits at learning the tackle game at a younger age when the physicality of the game is relatively low.”

More than 120 athletes between the ages of five and 14 are expected to compete in flag football, tackle football and cheer this year, with the football games taking place at Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS).

“I feel that Scripps Ranch has built a reputation for outstanding youth athletics around the county, and we look forward to seeing more of those athletes sign up for football,” Garrison said. “If we just got one player from each of the baseball all-star teams, our football teams would be in the top tier of teams in the league.”

The safety measures being implemented by the league vary based on age level, but will include players not making initial contact with their helmet, limiting full contact sessions during practice along with no three-point stances or kickoffs.

The special rules for youth football are aimed at reducing contact while promoting safety, with all coaches being certified in safe football fundamentals to reduce the likelihood of head impact with these new techniques.

“Participating in tackle football is a tough decision for families,” Garrison said. “I am concerned with the intense specialization of a single sport at a young age. The competitiveness of soccer and baseball have resulted in year-round seasons for young athletes of one sport.”  

A father of two boys, this is Garrison’s first year as president and coach at SRPW. He has coached more than 10 years at SRHS, most recently as varsity offensive coordinator along with playing four seasons in college and then professionally for three more in Europe.

SRPW is still accepting volunteers to help on game days and as coaches, even those with no experience, since free certification training is provided for all coaches.

“We have an outstanding group of volunteers and parents in our league,” Garrison said. “Our volunteers are so dedicated to creating these wonderful opportunities to compete in football and cheer.”

SRPW works closely with the SRHS football staff to ensure that athletes are ready for high school football as SRHS head coach Marlon Gardinera and defensive coordinator John Taylor share fundamentals with the Pop Warner staff. SRPW and SRHS players continue their little brother mentoring program with the culmination being Pop Warner Night taking place at a SRHS home game, allowing the young Pop Warner players to run onto the field with the high school team. 

Visit scrippsranchpopwarner.com