A year without any gridiron action ignited the Southeast Idaho Youth Football League (SIYFL) to enact some changes to the league, partnering with a pair of local leagues to expand opportunities and competition.

To compete with its 5th and 6th graders, the SIYFL added eight teams from the Mini-Cassia league in Burley and then, for 7th and 8th graders, the SIYFL partnered with the 24-team Upper Valley Grid Kid program.

Altogether, the SIYFL now has 74 teams and more than 1,600 kids participating in its youth football program.

“We kind of wanted to get more kids an opportunity to play further out and not just within our own league,” said SIYFL President Les Hernandez.

“Then with COVID, we wanted to try and stimulate some excitement again in the game and I know there is still some hesitation with that. We thought this would be a good way to get a lot of kids back out again.”

This Saturday was the second weekend of the league’s season and Hernandez said it has been great to see kids back on the field again interacting with their friends.

Last fall, in lieu of games, the SIYFL held a number of skill camps that brought out a good amount of participants but it definitely wasn’t near the draws they would get for the full tackle football season.

This season also brings back the championship games being played at Holt Arena. The 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade teams will compete for a title on Oct. 23 inside the dome.

The intrigue for 2021 is how the leagues will shake out now that there are more participants and more talent.

“(Last Saturday) we had a Snake River team play a Rigby team. That was a cool matchup,” Hernandez said. “At the high school level, Highland will play Rigby and some of those schools in Idaho Falls and so will Pocatello and Century, but they don’t a chance to play any of those schools in the youth levels.

“This is going to be a big plus for our program and theirs, too.”