DENVER — Futures Football laced up for its 10th season on Saturday, and as it did, it celebrated the previous nine successful years and looked forward to progressing in the years ahead.
The spring middle-school tackle football program, which is funded by Denver Broncos Charities, connects Denver Public Schools students with the high-school coaches who would be their coaches once they finish middle school and move on to high school.
To begin the season, DPS and the Broncos hosted students at All City Stadium at Denver South High School for 25-minute scrimmages. Teams also received and wore new equipment and uniforms for the first time since the inaugural Futures Football season in 2009.
"Today's all about just celebrating brand new uniforms provided by the Denver Broncos, celebrating the Denver Broncos alumni who generously gave every kid in the program a brand new pair of cleats and five pairs of socks, which is an incredible gift for our kids, who sometimes can't afford a very expensive set of cleats," said John Andrew, DPS' director of athletics. "So we're just out here celebrating. It's our scrimmage day, all the Broncos are out here, and we're just thrilled to have this partnership and watch Denver Public Schools grow and actually thrive."
Broncos alumni, including Billy Thompson, Le-Lo Lang, Tyrone Braxton, Ron Egloff and many more former players, passed out about 500 Nike football cleats to the Futures Football players.
"It's been really exciting," Thompson said. They're excited about it, and so are we. This starts their season, really, the DPS program, and it's a program that, when they started, DPS was last in the league in football. Now, these kids were playing in the championship game last year. So, mission accomplished. The thing I like about it most is you have to maintain a certain grade-point average to play, and these kids are doing that. It's a wonderful, wonderful program."
Before Saturday's scrimmages began, Andrew gathered all 12 teams around him on the field and told them about how far their program has come.
"Nine years ago, we were the worst league in the state," Andrew said. "Four years after we started our first Futures group, they made it all the way to the state championship. That's what I want for all of you."