A new youth football program will enter the Wilson County scene this fall.
The Wilson County Wildcats will join the Lebanon Blue Devils and Mt. Juliet Bears in the Tennessee Youth Football League.
The league, for ages 5-12, will play at Wilson Central High School, with Friendship Christian’s Pirtle Field as a backup, according to organizer Greg Taylor, who said the purpose of the league is not to take away from the other leagues, but to make them better.
“Our objective is to make Wilson County a better football area,” said Taylor, a former Mt. Juliet running back/defensive back (he ran for 150 yards in the first half against Gallatin as a senior) who played on the Golden Bears’ first playoff team, the 1987 squad which reached the state quarterfinals. He also cited Rutherford County’s area dominance in high school football, crediting its youth programs.
“Rutherford County has really good youth football programs, and a lot of them, maybe seven or eight,” Taylor said. “This would give us three.
“It’s not about taking away from Lebanon, taking away from Mt. Juliet. It’s about making football in Wilson County better. The competition is going to help everyone else better.”
It will also open more opportunities for players and cheerleaders. Taylor said his league will have 150 players and 50 cheerleaders. Signups are available online at wilcowildcats.com and on Facebook at wilsoncountywildcats. Taylor urges interested parents to sign their kid(s) as soon as possible. Cost is $199 per participant.
“Once we get close to the 150 mark, we will begin to shut down,” said Taylor, adding players will receive a new helmet (value $150) to keep at the end of the season along with game pants with pads inserted and jersey. Cheerleaders will also receive uniforms and other apparel.
“Compared to other leagues, we’re trying to bring more value to what parents getting for the money,” Taylor said. “Our ultimate goal is not to have any money at the end of the season. We want to spend every dollar on the kids.”
After graduating from MJHS in 1988, he played for legendary Middle Tennessee State coach Boots Donnelly. After college, he lived in West Nashville for more than a decade and headed the Bellevue Steelers from 2004-07. It was there he introduced current Tennessee Vol linebacker Daniel Bituli to football at age 10.
“I talked Daniel Bituli into playing football,” Taylor said of the future Nashville Christian star who was born in Nigeria and had played soccer in his early years.
Taylor, whose son and nephew played for Friendship in recent years, said just because his program plays at Wilson Central and is called the Wildcats, it is not associated with that school.
“We are not a feeder program for Wilson Central,” Taylor said. “We are a Wilson County program. We have kids zoned for Lebanon High School, zoned for Wilson Central, zoned for Mt. Juliet, and we have kids who go to Friendship.”
Taylor said the quality of the county’s high school facilities, including Central’s and Friendship’s have drawn interest from the TYFL.
“We could possibly have (host) a state championship in Wilson County,” Taylor said. “We have enough fields to do that, and we’ve been asked already.”
Taylor said former Mt. Juliet and Vanderbilt star Tim Bryant and former Titans receiver Chris Sanders will hold a football camp called “Going Dee” from 9 a.m.-noon June 30 at Wilson Central. The camp is open to everybody, Taylor said, adding two to three current players from Tennessee and Vanderbilt are expected to appear.
By Andy Reed