So much time has passed since our last conversation, dear Observant Reader, that any doubts you may have had that no further dispatches would be coming From The Press Box are quite understandable.

I ask your forbearance and assure you that, in almost all instances, the lack of a column from your sports editor was, in almost every instance, deliberate. Taking photos of local youth off the page, or shortening a story even removing line scores or results for the sole reason of airing my own opinion is not much of a conundrum: FPB must go unless there is an insight of pressing nature that simply cannot wait. Such has not been the case.

It is the hope of those involved in the writing and production of the Perry Chief that you, dear O.R., are quickly coming to approve of the new physical size of the paper. Content has not been lessened; indeed, once the fall seasons are in full swing it is likely the number of pages devoted to sports will increase, both as a result of Woodward-Granger returning to our coverage and also for the simple physics of squeezing more content into less column inches. Again, it will be FPB that will take the hit.

Until then, kindly allow this mishmash of a dispatch to touch on several subjects, the first of which is youth football.

As reported on this page, the Perry Youth Football League has left the Indianola League in favor of one based in Waukee. The move appears to be, in a variety of factors, a positive one.

Having third and fourth graders presented the opportunity to put on the shoulder pads and learn football is fine by me. I see it as damn fine and would love to see the chance to play extended down to first and second grade, as it is in my hometown in Illinois.

A huge advantage of playing in the new league is that the kids will get to play an entire game, rather than being on a team that was divided into two squads that played every-other quarter. The upshot is a doubling of playing time for each gridder, and nothing tops game experience.

The new Junior Bluejays will be made up of grades 3-4, the Titans of fifth graders and the Giants of sixth graders.

Waukee names each team Warriors and adds an additional moniker to set them apart: the Black Warriors, Blue Warriors and so on, all with the goal of generating a desire in the youth to one day play for the ‘big’ Warriors once they get in high school. Perry intends to do follow the excellent example with ‘Bluejays’ in the future.

The youngsters are practicing on the field north of Dewey Field, with the high school gridders just a short walk away. It must be amazing to be a young player and look over at those huge prep stars and see that you are doing the same drills they are, that one day you too could be standing over there with that dark blue helmet on.

All three young teams will use the very terminology and plays (scaled down, of course) that the varsity Jays use, thus setting a much-needed pipeline in place. You build programs from the bottom up, and it appears the move to the new league will likely serve only to strengthen the foundation.

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The college and professional football seasons will, at long last, finally begin again in a few short weeks. I far prefer the former, but look forward to the return of the NFL as well.

For nine months Sept. 14 has been circled on my calendar and, I suspect, on quite a few calendars in Tuscaloosa. On that date Alabama will visit Texas A&M for a shot at avenging their upset loss to the Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium last year.

Think Nick Saban might have spent a few hours preparing for this? Johnny Manziel may be extremely talented, but not since revenge against Tim Tebow (which they earned) has a Crimson Tide team wanted to embarrass an opposing quarterback so badly.

Chalk the Tide down as winning by double digits on their way to their third title in a row, fourth in the last five years and 16th overall.

With very few exceptions, no one else is even playing the same game Bama is.

Go ahead and hate them, because, as the past five years has proven, Saban no longer recruits, he selects. Tide haters will have plenty to be ticked about for some time to come.