But that is changing this fall, as two Pee-Wee football teams take the field for the first time.
“Initially, we saw the need for a Pee-Wee football program,” South Webster Pee-Wee Football President Roger Sessor said. “South Webster has, over the years, had some of the best athletes in the area. Coming from the west side (West Portsmouth), I grew up around football. I see what it can do for a community and what it can do for kids. There are kids that football is just a better fit for than basketball or soccer.”
Proceeds from Saturday's World Championship of Cornhole at the high school benefited the South Webster Pee-Wee Football program. Sessor said $8,000 already has been raised for equipment and other expenses in starting Pee-Wee football.
The new varsity team will be for fifth- and sixth-graders and the junior varsity will be comprised of second-, third- and fourth-graders.
The teams have been practicing for two weeks and will play in the Scioto Valley Pee-Wee Football League. They will play Portsmouth East, Portsmouth West, Portsmouth, Green Township and Portsmouth Notre Dame.
League previews will be Aug. 19.
The village teams will play at the former Vernon School on Turkey Foot Road.
“That's the best facility to use,” Sessor said. “It has plenty of room and plenty of room for the fans. We've never needed anything that large before, besides the high school soccer field.”
Sessor said teaching the kids the basics of football has been one of the hardest parts so far.
“And conditioning,” he said. “They've never had to go through the type of conditioning they're going through now in any other sport. Basketball and soccer require a lot of sprinting and running. But it doesn't require them to do the bear crawls, tackling and things they do in football.”
Sessor said the goal of the program is to get a football team at the high school.
“We've talked to the school board and they support the Pee-Wee program,” he said. “They're looking forward to eventually starting a junior high and high school program.”
Sessor said that could happen in the next couple of years. But he said without the Pee-Wee program, the high school could not start a successful program.
“If you just throw a bunch of kids on the field in high school, they're just going to get hurt,” Sessor said. “So having a couple years of Pee-Wee in, they'll be able to play without getting hurt and play on a level with the other seventh- and eighth-grade teams.”
Those players would then move onto the new junior high and high school teams, he said.