Opelika Dawg Pound Expanding, Preparing for New Season


By Harrison Tarr

For the Observer

Although football season is roughly six months away, a continued passion for the sport in the Opelika community means there is no such thing as too soon when it comes to preparing and developing young athletes who have an interest in competing on the gridiron. The Opelika Dawg Pound — a youth football league that operates in conjunction with the Knee High Foundation — has already welcomed its crop of talent for 2022.

Organization CEO Anthony Bryant was pleased with the conclusion of the spring tryouts, reporting that the group had positive numbers across both football and cheerleading.

“We just finished up with our tryouts,” Bryant said. “We ended up with 165 boys and 64 or 65 cheerleaders.”

Following the conclusion of tryouts, participants in the annual youth league have been divided into five  classifications, one of which is brand-new to the program.

“We have five teams in total,” Bryant said. “This year, we’re introducing a 3- and-4-year-old flag team which is part of the league we’re in.”

So far, 27 kids have signed up to be a part of the Dawg Pound’s inaugural team.

“Looking forward to this year,” Bryant said. “Last year, we had four teams and we did pretty good in our first year in the Columbus youth football league. All four teams made the playoffs and the 13U, they actually won their division.

“This year, we’re trying to have all five teams make the playoffs. Hopefully win all five divisions; that’s the goal that we’re shooting for.”

Although anticipation for fall football continues to build within the league, the CEO is equally as excited to see his group hit the field throughout the spring 7-on-7 season.

“We’re currently in 7-on-7,” Bryant said. “We haven’t done any tournaments yet but we have a couple coming up. Two are in April and then we start league play here.”

The organization’s leader looks forward to what he expects to be a healthy turnout for the upcoming tournaments.

“We have pretty decent numbers in 7-on-7 too,” Bryant said. “We have a 10U team, a 12 U team, a 14U team and an 18U team which is composed of the high schoolers.”

With the imminent spring season comes yet another exciting opportunity for Bryant to see out another one of his program’s goals: bringing a passing league to Opelika.

“Hopefully, we’re bringing a passing league to Opelika,” Bryant said. “I was working out a few kinks but those are pretty much ironed out now. I’m trying to get more teams to see if they’re really interested in being part of a league.”

Although certainly a point of emphasis, the newly formed passing league is not all the Dawg Pound is bringing to the community in 2022. According to the CEO, girls’ flag football is the next frontier.

“We’re also introducing girls flag football to the area for sixth, seventh and eighth grade,” Bryant said. “We had 15 girls come out.”

Bryant communicated that the organization’s goal is to get young women in the community prepared for the sport at the high school level and to be successful beyond.

“Our aim is to prep these girls for high school,” Bryant said. “Girls flag football in high school is about to take off. From my understanding, they’re supposed to be beginning to give out scholarships for this.”

With all of the new happenings surrounding the Dawg Pound, there are plenty of reasons for the Opelika community to be excited for the direction the organization is headed as Bryant and the Knee High Foundation seem committed to creating a better place for young athletes.


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