Glendale Bears

Junior peewees run a drill at a youth football practice for the Glendale Bears at Eagle Rock High on Wednesday. This is the program's first year at Eagle Rock after several years, from its inception, of playing at Glendale High. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

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  • Glendale, CA, United States
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Talk to Cynthia Perez and she’s got quite an optimistic outlook.

Perez, the second-year president of the Glendale Bears Youth Football and Cheerleading organization, is encouraged about several things leading up to the start of the season. Among them are having a higher player turnout and several teams contending for conference championships.

“I like where we are going,” Perez said. “We have about 150 players out there after having about 120 last year.

“It’s a fun experience for the players and cheerleaders. They get a lot out of it. The goal is to work with the local high schools and try to get the players ready for the next level.”

The Bears, who were formed in 1969, will begin their season Sept. 7 with home games at Occidental College. Perez said the Bears will play the remainder of their home games at Salesian High in Los Angeles, about a 10-mile commute from Glendale. The Bears played their home games last season at Occidental College in Los Angeles after playing home contests at Glendale High’s Moyse Field in 2012.

Perez said the organization mostly attracts participants from Glendale, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Glassell Park. The Bears are a member of the San Gabriel Valley Junior All-American Football Conference and have five teams that participate at different levels.

The Bears have teams in five separate divisions: Flag (6-8 years old), Gremlin (8-10), Junior Pee Wee (9-11), Pee Wee (10-12) and Junior Midget (11-13). The Gremlins finished runner-up in the conference championship contest last season.

The organization is open to boys and girls 6-13, who play on teams determined by a weight and age formula. To ensure participation for all players, all athletes are guaranteed at least 10 downs per contest.

The coaches in each division have been engaged in getting their teams prepared for the first week of the season.

Juan Monzon, who coaches the Junior Pee Wee squad, will have a familiar cast of players on board. Monzon coached the Gremlin squad last season and many of the players have moved up to the next level.

“That’s one of the biggest advantages having players you already know,” Monzon said. “Plus, we have some new players who are talented.

“The Gremlin team had a lot of good chemistry and that was one of the reasons we were able to have a great season. Now, we’ll try to do it again at the next level.”

Mario Sanchez, who will serve as the new Gremlin coach, said the goal of youth football is to prepare the players who might be entertaining the possibility of competing at the high school level.

“It’s about going over fundamentals and making them learn how to read different kinds of plays,” Sanchez said. “You learn from the mistakes and you keep moving on.

“With Gremlin, it’s the first level where you tackle. The kids are highly motivated and putting in a lot of effort. That’s what you like to see.”

The regular season will wrap up in November.

For more information, visit www.glendalebears.org.