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Football Coach Eager to Start Team for Weston Kids

WESTON, Conn. – Joe Lato has seen firsthand with the Weston youth lacrosse program that a sport can thrive as a one-town entity. He’s hoping he can do the same thing with the youth football program.

Lato, the head football coach at Weston, is the driving force behind Weston joining the Fairfield County Football League . Parents will have the opportunity to learn more about the football and cheerleading programs during a meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday in the Weston High School cafeteria. Carm Roda , president of the Westport Police Athletic League and member of the Fairfield County Football League board, will attend the meeting. Ridgefield, which recently joined the league, will also have board members at the meeting.

“We’re trying to get our numbers up, and if you look at lacrosse, it validates that it can be done,’’ Lato said. “Their numbers are great. When you look at what they do, it’s such a strong connection between the high school program and the youth program. If they can do it in the spring, why can’t we do it in the fall? Let’s go for it.”

Currently, children in Weston play football and cheer for the Aspetuck Wildcats , which draws children from Easton, Redding and Weston. Children and families will still have that option. But Lato, who has been the coach at Weston since 2006, is not attracting many boys into the high school program. “We only have 50 kids playing youth football in grades K-8,’’ Lato said. “That has to change.”

Lato says his goals aren’t going to be measured in the win-loss column. He wants to get more boys involved in the sport from the town of Weston. He’s encouraged by lacrosse’s example because it grew tremendously in Weston when it split from a group associated with Westport nearly 10 years ago.

“The goal here isn’t to win a national championship,’’ Lato said. “It’s to develop interest in football and teach fundamentals and be the best model you can be. If you look at the schools from the towns that are involved in the FCFL, they’re pretty good. Everybody is so fired up about wins and losses. You focus on the little things, the wins and losses will take care of itself.”

Lato will be involved with several aspects of the program, but won’t be coaching because of his commitment to the high school team. The number of teams will depend on the registration.

“I’ve seen in the past where you’ve had six different programs and had six different philosophies," Lato said. "We’re looking to have it structured like a high school program. With that comes continuity. It reinforces the same fundamentals so that everyone is on the same page.’’

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