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Glendale Tornados, a Pop Warner squad, ready to touch down

Football: Arrival of new Pop Warner squad reopens conversation on how to revive flagging high school programs.

June 11, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

When it comes to the concept of a feeder program to funnel youth football players into its high school ranks, Glendale has been going hungry for some time now.

Whether it's in the Pacific League or the CIF Southern Section at large, the football teams at cross-town rivals Glendale High and Hoover have struggled to compete, going a combined 14-85-1 over the last five seasons.

It's not hard to see that a lot of the disparity comes down to numbers, both in terms of experienced players and simply the number of bodies on the sideline, as the 25-man roster that the Nitros fielded this past season was but a typical example of the challenges the schools face in generating interest and involvement.

The founders of the Glendale Tornados, a brand new Pop Warner affiliate set to break ground in the fall, hope they've hit upon a solution to the problem.

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It was mainly second-year Hoover High football Coach Andrew Policky who hatched the idea for a new youth program with Hoover as its home base with the desired effect of sowing a crop of young talent to fatten up the Hoover High Tornadoes' ranks for years to come.

"I was hoping if we have them practice and play games at Hoover and call them the Tornados, if they wear our stuff and play in our colors then we have a shot at getting them to come over to play at Hoover," said Policky, whose team went 0-10 last season.

As of Friday, the Tornados, who hope to feature tackle and flag football, as well as a cheerleading program, have signed up 70 players and already have enough to field teams in the Mighty Mite (ages 6-8) and Midget (ages 12-14) divisions.

"Those teams look like they're doing OK, but we still need players in the middle levels," said Andre Clarizio, a Hoover graduate, who also serves as the Tornados president. "Otherwise we're looking good. We could still use more cheerleaders out there, but we definitely will have a couple of teams doing something out there."

Of course, the Tornados won't be the only youth team playing in Glendale this fall. The city is already home to the Junior All-American affiliate Glendale Bears, who feature the same age-group tackle and flag and cheer programs and have been around since 1969.

But Clarizio said a main impetus for the development of the Tornados was the failure of the Bears to develop an adequate feeder program for the area it purports to represent.

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