College Sports

JUCO club football takes step up

A fledgling junior college club football league in Washington will expand by one team next season, when Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco will join the Northwest Community College Football League.

In addition, the champion of the five-team league will play Nov. 13 in Ephraim, Utah, against Snow College, a traditionally strong junior college program.

“This is very exciting,” said Kory Hill, the league president. “It certainly is going to help give us more credibility. It’s a process.”

The NWCCFL is an independent league and is not affiliated with the colleges. However, to be on a team, players must be enrolled at the college and be between the ages of 18 and 24.

Hill’s dream project debuted in August at four junior colleges for a six-game season. Teams were formed at South Puget Sound, Green River, Tacoma and Yakima community colleges.

Hill said the caps on team rosters will expand from 25 to 45 players. Hill estimated the equipment costs would be $50,000, equaling last year’s costs.

“Financially, we came out of it fine,” Hill said. “By our third year, we should have most of the equipment bought.”

Snow College athletic director Kevin Wright first contacted Hill about the league champion playing in Utah. Wright wanted a home-and-away contract.

“I think we’ll do that, but I wasn’t ready to commit until I know we’ll be able to represent ourselves well,” Hill said. “We want to take care of 2010 first.”

The NWCCFL will get some help in travel costs from Snow College. Wright agreed to pay for 20 hotel rooms and three meals for the team.

“Kevin said they’re tired of just playing Arizona schools,” Hill said. “We’re very excited about this.”

Hill said he tried to schedule games with California junior colleges but didn’t get much response. But out of those queries, Snow College got word of Hill’s interest.

Hill said he has received calls from a coach in Ohio wanting to start a junior college program there. The word is spreading.

Cam Cleeland, the former Washington Husky and former NFL tight end, has joined in support of the NWCCFL.

Hill said Simon Fraser football coach David Johnson is going to offer scholarships to some players in the NWCCFL.

In Hill’s vision for the league, it will eventually be a stepping stone for more players to transfer to four-year schools.

“We believe we’ll be so much bigger, faster and stronger this coming season,” Hill said.

“We’re just going to continue to get better.”

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443