Local youth football clubs merge

By Joseph Garcia

Liberty Hill Youth Football and Cheer has merged with another local youth athletic organization, Liberty Hill Panther Youth Football, to form one, unified league.

The move was made by both groups in the interest of Liberty Hill’s youth, leaders say. The belief is that this effort will provide Liberty Hill’s youth with the best experience by taking the finest qualities of each association and combining them to form the highest-quality youth football association in the area.

Liberty Hill Youth Football and Cheer (LHYFC) will remain intact as the organization’s name.

“Both associations believe that the community of Liberty Hill is better served to have one united youth football league where the young athletes of our community can play together and share the experience as a group,” said LHYFC Executive President Michael Wilson. “The last thing any of us wanted to do is split the kids up and take the chance on neither of us not having enough kids on a team to play the season.”

Former LHPYF President Shawn Lapuszynski is now the LHYFC President, with Wilson’s title now the Executive President. The organization also added John Oncken to the board to share the Vice President duties with Kasey Cauble.

LHYFC will play in the Hill Country Youth Football League (HCYFL). The HCYFL is a grade first (not age first) based, unlimited weight league. It is composed of teams from the following school districts: Liberty Hill, Burnet, Lampasas, Fredericksburg, Llano, Blanco, San Saba, Johnson City and Goldthwaite.

Two additional school districts other than the ones listed are currently in the process of being added for the fall season. The HCYFL is a subordinate of American Youth Football. HCYFL strives to produce an environment in which each program runs the Independent School District football system of the junior high or middle school in which the young players will attend.

The LHYFC will have teams at the following grade levels: Varsity (5th/6th) (defending champions), JV (3rd/4th) and PeeWee (K-2). Varsity and JV levels have a true top four seed playoff system that culminates in a league championship game.

“(What) an opportunity to play in HCYFL, a league that is made up of teams Liberty Hill often plays in district and regular season games,” Lapuszynski said. “The LHISD coaches were very supportive of us and the boys took to the system like we could have only dreamed. This fifth/sixth grade ‘Varsity’ team is a great bunch and won the 2012 championship.

“In a nutshell, we implemented the LH offensive and defensive systems exactly how the boys will run them when they reach seventh grade, we even replicated the warm up. It caught on and we were growing very fast,” Lapuszynski said.

LHYFC’s mission is to replicate the Liberty Hill football system (the Jerry Vance system) to the exact same standards and specifications prescribed by LHHS/LHJH coaches. LHYFC is dedicated to fully supporting the Liberty Hill ISD coaches by teaching the Liberty Hill offensive and defensive football systems exactly how they will be run when the young Panthers enter the seventh grade.

The youth league will continue to remain current with the Liberty Hill football system and make any adaptations or changes adopted by the LHISD coaches. LHYFC’s goal is to provide 100 percent support to the tireless efforts of the LHISD coaches. The organization aspires to produce young Panthers that enter the seventh grade more ready to run the Liberty Hill football system.

The LHYFC board had begun discussing this as an option when Wilson received an email from Lapuszynski asking to meet with him. The two have known each other for many years and are both very passionate about what they do, so they met to discuss the option.  After the discussion, both took the option to their boards and after both boards approved the idea, details were worked out the very next night.

“This whole process happened over three very late and long nights,” Wilson said. “The decision was not taken lightly by either association because we all wanted to do what was right for the kids. None of us wanted our kids to be split up nor did we want the parents to have to choose between the two associations.”

The benefits for the original LHYFC to merge include adopting the school’s football system, which Lapuszynski’s group had fostered, as well as playing in a league geared more towards smaller towns. Wilson believes his group brings to the table the benefit of a stable foundation with organization through their board’s experience and the assets which they have developed over the years including the football field at City Park.

The LHYFC also had a very good cheer program established, so young ladies can participate in the association.

Merging the two youth football organizations seemed the logical move, and one that had tremendous upside.

“I have been doing this quite a while now and I think it is good to shake things up every once in a while,” Wilson explained. “I had only been in the association a short time. The last time we decided to change the league we played in, it was the right thing to do at the time. So now as I near the end of my time in the association it seems fitting that things change and I believe it will turn out to again be the right thing to do.

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the years and even more proud that we as a community continue to make decisions based on what we think is best for the kids,” Wilson said.

The new-look LHYFC’s objectives are simple and clear: strictly adhere to doing what is in the best interest of Liberty Hill’s children, community and football program.

“The kids are reason all of us volunteer our time and energy,” Wilson said. “I truly believe that both associations have made the right decision and moving forward it will make LHYFC a better and evolving association that will continue to serve the youth of Liberty Hill, well beyond the current board’s time in the association and it is because people like we had on these two boards are willing to put the kids first.

“We are having a great turn out so far this year and we hope our numbers will continue to grow not just this year but in the future,” he said.

Practice starts the week of August 1 with four practices per week for two weeks. Then three practices per week for two weeks and two practices per week after the first game to ease pressure on young students and their families during the school year.

The first game will be August 24 and with a long playoff run, the season should finish around Halloween, barring rain outs.

For more information, contact either Shawn Lapuszynski at (512)577-9988 and lhpfactory@gmail.com, or Michael Wilson at (512)658-7602 and mwilson@hlchapman.com.