Key info about Naperville Saints players, positions, team assignment and more.
As a Naperville Saints player parent, you may wonder how teams are formed, players are assigned, and more. There are a lot of moving parts to a non-profit football program and it can seem overwhelming, so please read below for an overview!
The Naperville Saints are a member of the BIll George Youth Football League (BGYFL), founded in 1963.
The BGYFL is a competitive league, with three distinct levels of competition for age groups 9U-Varsity: Gold D1, Gold D1, and Silver. Because this is a competitive league, players are not assigned to teams based on player/parent preference. There are no exceptions. Players must play at their respective level for their own safety and development as a player. Read below for more information.
The league is one with which we align with for many reasons, least of which is their focus on player safety and fair competition. The BGYFL has implemented specific safety measures including weight limits, rules that vary by age, and more. As of the time of this article there are 21 towns in the BGYFL, based predominantly in the west and northwest suburbs. The Naperville Saints play teams from other towns in the League, so it is a “travel” league, but travel is limited to the Chicagoland area.
The Naperville Saints are comprised of football players from 7-14 years old. Players are placed into teams based on their age as of August 1st, which is a league requirement. Players are not assigned teams by grade. Players play in their respective age groups, i.e., 9-year-olds play 9U, not down to 8U, or up to 10U.
8U (players 8 years old and under) play in a developmental division. The goal of this age division is to get kids playing football, focusing on safety, having fun, and wanting to come back to play again. Players learn basic techniques, offensive and defensive plays, and the teamwork required to succeed on and off the field. Games are conducted in a very similar fashion to the older age groups with the full gameday experience: ISHA-badged referees, athletic trainers, game footage recorded, and much more. 8U teams do not participate in post-season league playoffs and championships, but typically play in one final “bowl game.”
9U-Varsity (players 9-14 years old) play in competitive levels. Starting with 9U, teams are organized by Gold and Silver, with various divisions within each level with progression in skills and play complexity. Note that we do have first-year players at the 7th and 8th grade levels, so years of experience is not a prerequisite. Below is a break-down of ages and divisions:
We want all kids to have the ability to play this great game so we do not hold tryouts to participate. We do assign players 9U and older to Gold and Silver designations based on an initial evaluation period of 1-2 weeks. This is a critical time period as coaches use these eval periods to assess a player. There are several factors that go into the placement of a player into a team, including but not limited to player experience, skill, attitude, effort, position-specific capability and more. Note that prior experience in flag football generally does not carry-over to football.
Coaches at the respective age level work with other coaches in the same age level to build their teams. Note that teams are NOT to be formed based on parental input, existing friendships, or coaches "bringing-in" other players. The Naperville Saints Board will uphold this rule at its sole discretion. If you or your player are not willing to accept player or team assignments, please find another activity to participate in for the fall.
Players will know which team they are rostered to during or shortly after the evaluation period.
Many kids want to be the ones scoring touchdowns, and we get it! However, as the ultimate team sport, not every player can be the one scoring points. Consider the offense, where 5 of the 11 players on the field are lineman - everyone on the field plays a critical role. Players will generally play the same or similar position for the entire season so they can learn the intricacies of their position and progress. Player position assignments are made at the sole discretion of the coach and are not assigned by player or parent request.
Part of the player position assignment is determined by player size with the League’s “Striper” program where the BGYFL has implemented weight restrictions, by age, as a safety and even-competition measure. Those players above a certain weight in their age group are deemed "stripers" and are limited to offensive and defensive line play. These players have a stripe applied to their helmet for easy identification and our lineman wear it as a badge of honor. They have a blast as they do battle in the trenches with contact and action on every single play. Many Naperville Saints lineman are NOT stripers and some of our fastest and strongest players on the line are under the striper weight limit. Visit our lineman page for more info.
As described above, players are assigned to teams starting with player age, then evaluated for the best fit into level and division Once a player is assigned to a team they stay on that same team for the duration of the season.
Gold teams are designated as the highest level of competition. Specifically, at the respective age level, a Gold 1 team is composed of the best 18-20 players across all of our teams. This means some players who were gold may move to silver and vice versa. Once team rosters are submitted to the league, players are on their team for the duration of the season.
Both gold and silver levels are eligible for postseason play based on wins, losses and points scored. The play is competitive at both levels, to say the least. In fact, a majority of our teams who advanced to the league championships in 2022 were silver teams.
From season to season players may move in and out of various levels and divisions, silver to gold and gold to silver. Movement is based on team needs, player development and coaches' discretion. In the interest of player safety and fairness, players will not move down a grade, i.e., an 11-year-old player will not play on a 10U team.
You will see team names follow a designation such as 11U Gold D2. Below is a break-down of what that means:
There may also be sub-division breakdowns such as "11U Silver Black/White/Navy" etc.
In the interest of safety and like-competition, gold teams only play gold teams and silver teams only play silver teams, at their respective age and division levels. Additionally, teams only play other teams in the same age level. For example, a 10 year old team (10U) will only play other 10U teams.
We hope this primer on player assignments and teams helps answer questions you may have. Please visit our FAQ for more information: https://www.napervillesaints.org/faq