The goal many WPIAL high school football teams set before their seasons commence is having the opportunity to play at Heinz Field.
One local team that loves football, despite being several years younger, is getting that opportunity during halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons preseason game Sunday, Aug. 20.
The Division 2 team of the Chartiers-Houston Youth Football Association – comprised of third and fourth graders – will take the stage on the North Shore to scrimmage Southmoreland. Both are members of the Washington/Greene Youth Football League.
“There was a lot of satisfaction when we found out because we’ve been working hard since the beginning of the year to make this happen,” said Patrick Walsh, vice president of the Chartiers-Houston Youth Football Association. “You see these miniscule percentages of kids in high school that make it to the National Football League. That number is even smaller when you’re talking about kids that play youth football. This is probably going to be their biggest opportunity to play on a stage like that.”
The Washington/Greene Youth Football League is now comprised of 28 organizations, 85 total teams and expands to five counties in southwestern Pennsylvania for players from kindergarten to sixth grade. Sponsored by DICK’S Sporting Goods, who chose teams to participate in the exhibitions at Heinz Field, the league was originally created to help smaller junior high programs.
“The joy that we’re going to see on the kids’ faces is going to be indescribable,” Walsh said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We stress that everything we do is all about it being fun. Hopefully it’s something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”