Tehachapi Youth Football will open its 42nd season this Saturday as the four levels of Tomahawk teams host games in Tehachapi. The action starts at 10 a.m. with the freshman team and continues every two hours with the varsity kids taking the field at 4 p.m.

So much has been written about youth football lately from people who are both advocating for and against the sport. As I mentioned before, it's nice to finally just talk about football games for a change. While the maturation of football continues at all levels, local leaders within the Tomahawks organization are happy to report their participation numbers actually grew this season. I’m hoping, like most, that this will continue as an upward trend with the sport regaining its importance in the lives on young people while balancing the new and improved way of teaching the game.

Tehachapi continues to be blessed with its own dedicated youth football stadium, a rarity in the Golden Empire Youth Football League. While their sanctioning body, the GEYFL, managed to strike a deal in Bakersfield with the new Kaiser Permanente Stadium and use it for some teams who don’t have a home, Tehachapi continues to get to host most games on the schedule. Matter of fact, the Tomahawks will have six home dates for most teams, including the first three to open the season, an important advantage during that early team development time. Tehachapi also plays two of their final three regular season games on the Mountain as well, again a nice advantage when playoffs could be in the future.

Like anything worth bragging about in this community, there is a large contingent of parents, volunteers, donors and supporters who will make all this happen this season. That’s not counting the coaching staffs, team moms and other staff members who give more time than we could possibly count to this worthy cause. In today’s age of football, one can’t simply show up, grab a whistle and start coaching. There are hours of training, certifications and other steps to ensure they are teaching the safest and most effective version of football to the next generation. It’s an ongoing process that certainly doesn’t get the attention it rightfully deserves.

For 42 years this organization has helped shape the future of Tehachapi football and thanks to a strong volunteer effort and community support, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. We know the lessons it has taught to players and the fundamentals it instills in all who walk through its fenced gates. It’s football on the surface, but a much more important chapter in the lives of all who get involved. It’s the foundation for success; it's lessons in triumph and failure, it’s a precursor for life.

We’re blessed with a synergy in this community as well, one where Tehachapi High School coaches embrace, interact and guide the coaches and players at the youth level. I’ve seen first-hand that this is not the case with all teams in the GEYFL. While the teams may share the same district boundaries as their high school counterparts, sometimes the colors of uniforms are all that they have in common. Here we use the Tomahawks to teach the "Warrior Way," it’s about as perfect as a development league that one could hope for and it starts with a spirit of cooperation.

So, as all local football kicks off this week, from Tehachapi High School to Tehachapi Youth Football, let’s not forget what has been built and be thankful for the results it produces. It's an organization that teaches the game of football and establishes solid ground for the future of those who suit up in the black and gold and eventually the green and black. It’s about community, cooperation, competition, teamwork and hustle.

As you can see, Tehachapi Youth Football is certainly more than football alone. Have a great season, Tomahawks.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at corey.costelloe@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.