The North Ridgeville Mini Rangers football team has moved to the Ohio State Youth Football League this year, and hopes to continue its success.
Most of the teams that make up the league are from the Cleveland area. Teams are from Lorain, Elyria, Warrensville Heights, Cleveland West, Glenville and Akron West.
Mini Rangers head coach Terry Murray likes the opportunities they can receive from switching leagues.
“If we win our city championship, we will be able to play in a true state championship playoff,” Murray said. “We’re still in the America Youth Football (AYF) league. We were in AYF last year, but it was a different conference. We were in Akron Conference and moved to the Cleveland Conference this year.”
Making the move to the new conference will present many new challenges to the Mini Rangers. Murray believes his team will be willing to step up and face those challenges.
“Glenville is a very good program,” Murray said. “Warrensville Heights won the national championship three years in a row, so they will definitely be a tough squad to beat.”
While their official schedule has yet to be released, Murray does know that the Mini Rangers play in their first game on Aug. 21.
The season started earlier than usual this year, something that surprised Murray and his team. They had to start practicing earlier to get ready for the quicker start, but Murray feels that his team is differently ready.
The Mini Rangers graduated several players from last year’s team. However, Murray feels that many of his returners, and those making the move from JV to varsity will impact the team.
“We lost the majority of our players from last year,” he said. “But we still have Jimmy Wagner, Josh Bowden, Michael Gowell, Tyler Fykete, Charles Igo, Charles Serrano, John Fowler, JJ Conklin, Luke Lombardo and Michael Wiseman returning from last year’s team. Our entire team features some really good players, but our returning players will definitely be strong assets.”
With such a young team, Murray doesn’t know for sure how strong the team will be, but he’s definitely staying positive. He feels the team can do as good as they want, if they just focus on working hard.
“We just scrimmaged the Elyria Bulldogs and did pretty well,” he said. “There are a lot of variables with our team this year. We’re very young, and we don’t really know where we’re going yet, but I can promise you one thing, and that is that we’ll be competitive.”
The new conference will also help the team, and Murray is definitely excited to have joined it.
“We’re really excited about this year, and we think it’s a more structured conference,” he said. “We will play at least eight solid games this year.”
The team runs many different fundraisers throughout the year, and the details of those can be found at www.nrminirangers.com. The website will also release the schedule for the fall season soon.