From now on, it counts.
Three area Pop Warner programs travelled to Punta Gorda over the weekend to iron out the kinks before the start of the season this weekend at the annual Jamboree at Carmalita Park on Saturday.
Cape Jr., Cape Youth and North Fort Myers joined Charlotte and Port Charlotte for a series of short preseason games so coaches could see what they have and to fine tune the offense and defense.
Keon Anderson, of the North Fort Myers Pee-Wee Pop Warner team, carries the ball during the annual Jamboree at Carmalita Park in Punta Gorda on Saturday.
Another jamboree, with Mitey-Mites and Tiny-Mites, took place on Sunday at the Sharks Complex in Cape Coral.
At the Jamboree, the scores are written in sand. The teams played in two 20-minute games with a running clock over two fields to make sure the games flowed at a good clip.
The main idea was to get the teams, which had barely more than a week of contact drills under their belts, ready for the season.
And after all was said and done, the common refrain from the coaches was, "We did OK, but we have a lot of work to do."
"We're here to see what we have to work on to make the team better," said North Fort Myers Junior Midget head coach Bill Cartmell. "Every team has the issue of installing their offense and defense in a week, but it comes together in the end."
As is tradition, the Cape Coral programs played each other while the North team battled whomever was available, usually one team from the north and one from the south.
Jason Hause, Cape Jr. Junior Pee-Wee head coach, said his team did well despite missing some players for weight issues and injuries.
"We're missing four players, but we did well and won both our games," Hause said. "We have the benefit of being together for the past several years."
James Redecker, junior Pee Wee coach for Cape Youth, said the short schedule makes it tough to get ready, making the Jamboree all the more important.
"What you see is five days of players in pads. In 10 days, we put 30 kids on the spot. It's tough to learn," Redecker said. "We'll review the tape and evaluate the players, then coach them up."
The games got in for the most part. Parts of one set of games were shortened by lightning in the late morning, and more lightning, coupled with a North Fort Myers player sustaining a neck injury, ended the event with a few minutes left.
The player, who had a tingling in his body, was flown to a Tampa hospital as a precaution.
All three locals teams will host openers. North Fort Myers plays Riverdale and Cape Youth hosts Charlotte in their Division 1 openers, while Division 2 Cape Youth will battle Englewood of the newly developed Division 3.