Any football coach will tell you the score doesn't matter much during "Jamborees" – a series of practice scrimmages against multiple teams, a crash-course exhibition season crunched into a two-hour time slot.
So when Montville hosted Ledyard, Norwich, East Lyme, Plainfield and Windham Saturday at Camp Oakdale, statistics and scores ranked low on the list of priorities.
"Overall we're just trying to get the kids to use fundamentals and into a game situation, so that they understand how to get to the football, how to tackle and how to play football," Montville Junior coach Mike Clemons said. "The Jamboree is bringing in the town, bringing in a nice crowd, so overall it's a good thing."
The conference grew by one team when Stonington left Rhode Island Pop Warner League to join the SNEYFC, giving the circuit 11 teams.
"Most of our coaches played in the Connecticut youth league and couldn't justify why we were playing Rhode Island teams," Stonington youth football president Mark Wallace said. "But the most compelling reason we joined the [SNEYFC] was to give our bigger kids over 160 pounds a team to play on."
The SNEYFC offers kids under 180 pounds a chance to play. Skill position players must weigh under 150 pounds. Weigh-ins are next Saturday in Ledyard. Nobody heavier than 160 can play Pop Warner.
While many teams welcome Stonington into the grouping of Eastern Connecticut Conference towns, its inclusion gives the league an odd number of teams, thus creating the need for one team to sit out a game (a bye) each week and reducing regular season games from nine to eight.
Plainfield is the defending Senior champ, winning its first Super Bowl ever, but looks to descend back into the pack after graduating many standouts. Ledyard, Super Bowl runner-up, returns a top quarterback in Ty Ebdon and eight regulars in total. Ebdon connected with Troy Hill and Justin Carter for touchdown passes in against East Lyme, which looked like a big and strong team in the Jamboree. Montville played competitively against Windham and Plainfield.
Windham won last year's Junior title over Griswold, while Waterford edged New London in the Micro championship. Many in the league expect New London to bounce back after a quiet Senior season last year. The Whalers will play at renovated Cannemella Field after being forced to play games on the road or at Coast Guard Academy last year.
"It should be an interesting year as always," Ledyard Senior coach Matt Schmahl said. "New London should be strong, as should Griswold, East Lyme, Norwich and Westerly. We have eight Seniors back, which is a lot at this level. We just have to wait and play the games."
Montville opens next Sunday at Camp Oakdale against Waterford. Micros play at 10 a.m., Juniors at noon and Seniors at 2.
Ledyard opens next Sunday at Westerly – Micros at 10 a.m., Juniors at noon and Seniors at 2. For a complete schedule, log on to www.eteamz.com/SNEYFC