"I've heard grumbling about us leaving (Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation's youth football program) and there's finger-pointing and all that. But the bottom line is to do what's best for our kids, and what's best is to go this route.
"It's not a slam on anybody else. It's just a step we need to take for our kids."
Middle, high school decline cited
Harp said the goal now is to have a team for grades K-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. There could be more than one team at each level if there is enough interest. In that case, players will be drafted onto teams, not split by school.
The grade school teams will play on the high school practice fields on Saturdays, and the middle school team will continue to play at Admiral Stadium.
Harp has been mulling the idea of a Danville-only program over the last few years since he's seen a decline in the number of kids participating in football at the middle school and high school levels.
With leagues for younger kids in soccer, basketball and baseball, Harps say there has to be a correlation.
So why not football, Harp asks?
"I know there is going to be criticism taking kids so young (to play tackle football), but Boyle Parks and Rec will not get involved even in flag football," Harp said. "It's time to be proactive, to get the kids out. You see diminished numbers at the middle school, which translates into diminished numbers at the high school."
Wilderness Trace Family YMCA in Harrodsburg has flag football for kids in grades K-2.
More like a pillow fight
John Drake, Boyle County Parks and Recreation director, says his board is not interested in duplicating a league already in the area and is "adamant" against tackle football for kids below third grade, where the current recreation league begins.
While some may think it is too early for kindergartners to play tackle football, Harp disagrees.
Harp saw the Garrard County league with kindergarten football and said the young players were "as cute as they can be. It was more like a pillow fight."
He says tackle football will not harm youngsters.
"The attitude is that football is too tough for kids at that age. If they think that, then they must not have watched," he said. "The kids are going to gravitate to programs that are out there. They might like football, but it's not out there. The whole reason to do this is to give them another option."
The new organization will also allow the older kids to play more games during the week, and it could allow Danville to have a freshman team for the first time in three years.
Eighth-graders can play for Bate Middle School and still supplement the freshman team, and freshman can also continue to play junior varsity and freshman games.
But what about the football league already in place?
Drake said it is still "way too early" to tell how Danville Youth Football will affect the county's youth football program.
Parks and Rec may invite other counties to play
"If it provides more kids an opportunity to play youth football, then I'm excited for that group," he said, adding that Danville students are still invited to play in the county's program.
"And we'll be here to assist any kids who don't want to participate in select or travel teamsthe opportunity to play in the Danville-Boyle County youth football program."
Drake said to supplement the loss of players to the Danville Youth Football Program, he may invite in teams from other counties to play.
Bruce Brown, who has a child playing middle school football, and Harp are trying to help raise between $12,000 and $15,000 for the league now for new equipment, field upgrades and other needs.
Harp is involved in an "advisory capacity" and will not be in charge of the league. Officers and a league president will be elected soon. Coaches are also being finalized.
"They idea is to get the program going in the right direction," Brown said. "We just felt like changes needed to be made."
Harp will also be putting on camps for youngsters in grades K-6 in May.
"Instead of doing it in the summer, hopefully this will help generate interest," he said. "The NFL gets involved in youth football, and we will model what they do."
For information on Danville Youth Football, call Harp at 859-238-1327. Donations to Danville Youth Football can be mailed to Brown at Old Bridge Golf Club, 1 Old Bridge Road, Danville, Ky. 40422.