Youth football has grown over three decades

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 20 August 2021 at 9:14 am

Contributed Photo – Medina Cowboys running back Gary LeFrois carries the ball during the 85 lb. Division team’s first ever contest against Tonawanda at Vets Park in 1993.

A nearly 30 year long tradition will continue on Saturday when the local youth football season kicks off.

Local youth football competition began in 1993 with the organization of the Lake Ontario Youth Athletic League (LOYAL) which at the outset included three teams from Medina and two from Albion.

The five teams competed in the Niagara Youth Football League (NYFL) whose lineup included teams from Lockport, Niagara Falls, Niagara Wheatfield, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, Sweet Home, Lewiston-Porter, Wilson-Newfane (New-Wil-Ran), Pendleton, Grand Island, Williamsville and Pendleton.

The Medina teams debuted against Tonawanda at Vets Park while the Albion squads opened at Lockport.

It took just two weeks for  local teams to earn their first wins as the Medina Cowboys (85 lb.) defeated the visiting Sweet Home Corporals 14-0 and the Albion Razorbacks downed the host North Tonawanda Hurricanes 33-0.

The second year of competition saw Albion add a third team and the Medina and Albion teams play each other for the first time. That matchup saw the Albion Razorbacks and Mavericks and the Medina Cowboys score wins.

The local youth football scene really expanded in 1999 with the formation of the Niagara Orleans Football Association (NOFA) whose lineup included Medina, Albion (which now had its own organization), Bar-Lyn (Barker/Lyndonville), Roy-Hart, Akron and New-Wil-Ran.

In 2002 Holley and Pembroke joined the NOFA lineup and by 2008 Newfane and Attica also became members.

Today the NOFA organization, which has competition in four age group divisions (Beginners, Mini, JV and Varsity), includes teams from a total of 11 communities including Albion, Medina, Holley, Roy-Hart/Barker,  Newfane, Akron, Pembroke, Batavia, Attica, Tri Town (Alexander) and Oakfield-Elba.