Antonio Ragland is very excited for a few members of Carbondale Junior Terriers football team, and for the team as a whole.
Ragland, who is the head coach of the Junior Terriers, participates in a junior football league with teams from Murphysboro, Carterville, Herrin, Marion, West Frankfort, Benton, Centralia, Anna and Massac County. Ragland said he has been a coach for the program for eight years, and a baseball coach for the past four years.
The past three years have been spent as the head coach of the Junior Terriers and the team has been undefeated in conference play for the past three years.
“A community program like Carbondale Jr. Sports is very valuable for today’s youths,” Ragland said. “Not only because it helps develop young athletes but it gives the kids something to do. This is great because a lot of kids tend to find trouble if they have too much free time on their hands.”
He said many of these players will move on to Carbondale Community High School with the hopes of contributing to the high school
After the season ended, Ragland got a call from Team Illinois of the Football University National Championship. This is a team that participates in a six-round national tournament hosted in seven cities with 192 teams comprised of 6,720 athletes from all across the United States to play each other in Naples, Florida to become the national champion, according to Ragland.
Upon receiving the call, Ragland was offered a coaching opportunity with the team, and he accepted. He also took three players – one being his son, Darius Ragland – to tryout for the team in Bloomington in October. They all made the roster.
The games will be played in Overland Park, Kansas on Dec. 2-5, and if the team is successful, it will be in Naples, Florida for a championship week Dec. 17-20. Ragland says the games for the championship will be aired on ESPN.