Updated: Jun 22
LUNENBURG – There’s some big changes happening in the local youth football scene for the fall 2023 season.
Lunenburg Bengals Youth Football and Cheerleading Association President Chris Hurlbut recently announced that the Bengals and the Ayer-Shirley Youth Football and Cheer Association will be merging as the two neighboring programs will become one this fall.
Hurlbut is in his second year as the president of the Bengals. In an exclusive interview with the Lunenburg Ledger, Hurlbut sat down and talked about the decision to merge with Ayer-Shirley.
“Last season we were struggling to field football teams and Ayer-Shirley was struggling also. We began talking to the neighboring associations, trying to figure out our options. We reached out to Ayer-Shirley last year and decided to do a co-op and we were able to field three tackle football teams,” said Hurlbut last Friday. “You could see the kids really starting to gel towards the end of last year and they had some success as our fourth-grade tackle team went to the Super Bowl. A lot of good came out of it.”
According to Hurlbut, the decision to merge this season was an easy one.
“We knew coming into this season, the situation wouldn’t change from last year and we didn’t want to wait until the last minute like we did last year to come together and form one association” said Hurlbut. “We wanted to build off the success we had last year and keep moving forward. This decision is in the best interests of both organizations. We are really excited about this decision and we’re looking forward to the season.”
Going forward, the program will be known as the Ayer-Shirley/Lunenburg Youth Football and Cheer Association. The program will still carry the Bengals nickname and will play its home games at both McCarron Turf Field in Lunenburg and the Harold G. Norton Athletic Complex at Ayer-Shirley Regional High School.
The season is slated to begin the end of July with conditioning practices before players will put on the pads and start preparing for the regular season that will begin a few short weeks after. The Bengals hope to know their season schedules some time in August or early September.
“Our board of directors are really focused on the safety of our athletes, creating a competitive environment, building team cohesion and making sure these athletes get the best game day experience possible,” said Hurlbut. “As an association, our main goal is to strengthen the program so that our athletes will have the best experience possible while preparing them for high school athletics and beyond.”
Hurlbut went on to say that the association has three basic objectives, to be safe, to be competitive and to be cohesive.
The league’s board of directors will have a representation from both programs beginning this season. With Hurlbut serving as president, he will be aided by Co-President Dave D’Ambrosio (Ayer-Shirley), Co-Vice Presidents Pat Bishop (Lunenburg) and Shane Brickley (Ayer-Shirley).
Also helping this season are Director of Football Veronica Maki (Ayer-Shirley), Director of Cheer Rajesh Pancholi (Lunenburg), Treasurer Kristina Spinelli-Williams (Ayer-Shirley), Co-Secretary Leah Jacobs (Lunenburg), Co-Secretary Rachel Layre (Ayer-Shirley), Flex Football Coordinator Tiffany Miller (Lunenburg), Concessions and Apparel Manager Jeremiah Salamon (Lunenburg), Equipment Manager Josh Ouellette (Ayer-Shirley) and Field Maintenance Manager Michelle Anciello (Ayer-Shirley).
For more information on the Ayer-Shirley/Lunenburg Bengals Youth Football and Cheer Association, please visit the association’s website at: www.aslbengals.com.