At TACA we believe 'age' rather than grade is the best arbiter when placing players on our football teams. We have set the following parameters as an organization:
14U Team - Ages 12, 13, 14 - on or before August 1st - Cannot be 15 on August 1st
12 year olds will be playing their first year of TACA football. They will be coached the same as all the other players; focusing on safety, while developing physical strength, agility, mental toughness and knowledge of the game. In general, a 12 year old will not be a starter. To be a starter he would have to be very skilled, conditioned and be better than most of his older teammates. Such 12 year olds are rare. He will, however, see a lot of playing time. (A 13 year old, first year player with TACA could be in a similar position as a 12 year old.)
A 13 year old or second year TACA player should be a starter. He could have a year of TACA football under his belt and will know (or be able to quickly grasp) what is expected of him on and off the field. He should have a solid working knowledge of our plays on both sides of the ball. His goal should be to start on at least one side of the ball. Whether starting or not, he should play a lot of football.
A 14 year old in his first year will have to prove his mettle to be a starter. If he is fit, coach-able, and able to grasp the game and our plays, a first year 14 year old can make it his goal to earn a starting position on at least one side of the ball, if not both. A 14 year old in his second or third year in our program should know what it takes to be prepared mentally and physically for TACA football and have full working knowledge of both the Offense and the Defense. His goal should be to start on either or both sides of the ball.
JV/ Varsity Teams - Ages 15, 16, 17, 18 - on or before August 1st - Cannot be 19 on August 1st
15 year olds. In most public schools this player would be a freshman and in a program completely segregated from all JR Varsity and Varsity practice. Freshman teams travel separate from JV/Varsity and usually play an all-freshman schedule. In the reality of the Home-school/ Private and Parochial School environment, 15 year olds play at the JR Varsity level. Some 15 year old players will be a starter on one side of the ball. It is not unheard of for them to set a goal of getting playing time on both offense and defense. Regardless of where they on the field, they will should see ample playing time at the JR Varsity level.
A word of caution: If your 15 year old son is being offered a Varsity position as a freshman on another team, it is possible that he is an absolute superstar athlete for his age. It is far more likely that the organization making the offer is very short on players. Think of wrestling. Is a 185 lb. freshman as strong as a 185 lb. senior? Probably not even close. The same holds true for football. IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT HEIGHT AND WEIGHT! The 15 year old athlete’s risk of injury playing at the Varsity level is exponentially higher than if he were playing age appropriate football. That is a risk we are not willing to take with our own sons or with yours.
16 year olds. About one in every dozen 16 year olds in public school is strong, conditioned, and knowledgeable enough to “Letter” in Varsity Football. “Lettering” as a sophomore is much more common in the Home-school/ Private and Parochial School environment. That said, sixteen year olds are a perfect fit for our JR Varsity program. Their goal should be to play hard, play smart, mature in their knowledge of the game and be a starter on at least one side of the ball.
17/18 year olds are at a level where they should start on a Varsity Football team. Some that might be newer to the game or that are playing in an incredibly competitive environment would play Varsity as a substitute player and elect to start in JV games as long as they are not an academic senior. It all depends on how tough it is to get on the field with that particular program. At TACA we think that two, (in some exceptions, three seasons max) of Varsity football is age appropriate, smart-minded, football.