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Semi-pro football coming to Sikeston

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Copperheads will begin play on March 19

sd_sports@yahoo.com

SIKESTON -- Feeling let down because there's no more football?

The Central Plains Football League can hopefully fill that void.

Starting in March, the brand new SEMO Copperheads semi-pro football team will be calling the Sikeston Complex their new home as they begin their first year as part of the CPFL.

"It's basically an adult, minor league football league," SEMO Copperhead co-owner Austin Reed said. "We have guys that range from 18-years old to 44-years old. We kind of view it as a way for the surrounding communities in Southeast Missouri and even Southern Illinois to have some kind of sports entertainment that doesn't involve baseball."

The Copperheads are part of seven new teams added to the CPFL, who now feature 12 teams spanning from Kansas to Nebraska and as close as Jackson and Springfield.

Sikeston's newest football team will feature many high school players that once donned their school colors from Jackson, Cape Girardeau, Scott City, Caruthersville, Sikeston, Charleston, East Prairie, New Madrid, Dexter and Hayti as well as others.

"We started putting this together in May of last year and it was a lot of word of mouth," Reed said about player involvement. "We had a few tryouts to get a feel of who could play where."

Reed, who has been involved with the Quincy Spartans semi-pro football team out of Illinois for the last three years and went to Jackson High School, will also be playing for the Copperheads.

"Right now I'm pretty much the jack of all trades," laughed Reed when asked what position he will be playing. "I'll be playing pretty much everywhere."

In his experience with the Spartans, Reed said interest around Quincy's semi-pro team grew immensely. So much, in fact, they were out-drawing their local college football team on Saturdays.

"It's faster-paced, it's higher scoring and it keeps people interested throughout the entire game," he said. "I think it's going to be a good thing."

The Copperheads will be playing their home games at the Sikeston Complex after original intentions of playing at Southeast Missouri State University's Houck Stadium were squandered due to renovation plans this upcoming spring and summer.

Nonetheless, Reed thinks the youth fields provided by the Complex will fit perfectly.

"I think the venue is going to be perfect," he said. "The playing surface is one of the big things we looked at and the grass that's on the field is pretty good. You have the park setting for people with kids and I think it will be a good thing for us."

Based out of central Missouri and founded in 2007, the CPFL is an 8-man football league that consists of mostly local players from surrounding host cities. There are two conferences, the American and National Conferences, and two divisions within each conference.

The Copperheads will be included into the National Conference along with the Missouri Mustangs, West Central Warriors, Newton County Tigers, Springfield Lightning and the Jackson Apaches.

Teams will play on a 50-yard field, similar to the Arena Football League, and will each have 10 games that make up the regular season -- five home and five away.

"It's pretty much playing like Arena League, only it's outside," said Reed. "The wide receivers can take off from the backfield and run forward."

The division winners and the top two teams in their conference will make the playoffs. The conference champions will play for the CPFL Championship at a neutral site in Kansas City.

All players, coaches and staff members are strictly voluntary. Some participate to hone their skills during the off-season while others are there purely for the love of the game.

"Nobody gets paid," said Reed. "It's basically a bunch of guys that want to have a second chance to play the game that they love."

The Copperheads will open their first-ever game and season at home against the visiting Newton County Tigers on March 19.