• Jacksonville youth football coach says thieves stole brand new equipment

    By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A Jacksonville youth football league is struggling to figure out how it will play next season after its coach says thieves stole thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment.

    James Jarrell said the JPJ Raiders football program had just gotten new helmets and shoulder pads.

    He said up to 65 sets of the new gear were locked inside a storage shed and bathroom at Lem Merrett park in Jacksonville when thieves broke in.

    “This is ridiculous right here,” Jarrell said. “To break in a metal door like that, then to come here and break in another metal door, that had to take some time.”

    Jarrell played at Ribault and Bethune-Cookman before starting the Raiders youth football association in 2009.

    He says approximately 125 children ages 5 to 12 participate in the program on Jacksonville's Westside.

    “These kids, they need an outlet.” Jarrell said. “Let’s just be real, in the last few months how many young men have been getting killed?”

    Jarrell said the gear was stored at the park because the players were set to take their sets home after physicals last week.

    As his youngest group of players practiced tackles and conditioned Saturday, he and other team leaders brainstormed how to get them into new gear.

    “I’m just so disheartened, but I’m not giving up,” Barbara Clemons, the team secretary, said. “We have too many little boys that need help for us to just walk off like that.”

    Jarrell is asking anyone who can help get the boys ready for the season to contact him at 904-345-9731.

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