Southern California is no stranger to the youth football scene. Including Texas and Florida, California is one the top hotspots you go when your looking for top talent in youth football for high school and college programs. The landscape of youth football is always changing becoming more and more competitive and serving as the way to spot talent in its early phases. When you look around and talk to a few people about who is the best right now, everyone starts with the I.E. Ducks (Inland Empire). Led by Co-Founder and Head Coach Keefe Matheny the I.E. Ducks since starting in 2011 has been on the fast track to the top. Winning National Championships and ripping through teams this past season at the 8th grade level by more than 22 points per game, the season also earned Coach Keefe the distinguished honor of AYF (American Youth Football) 2014 Coach of the Year.
Talking to Coach Keefe, he couldn’t be more proud of the success of the program and the kids he coaches that make it all possible. According to Coach Keefe, all the awards and recognition are truly a group effort and he felt his Coach of the Year honor was shared with his long time Defensive Coordinator and friend Coach D.J. Johnson. The path to the top the last few season has been fun for Coach Keefe. Coaching at the high school level before starting the I.E Ducks Keefe was no stranger to the talented youth in the area of Southern California.
The inspiration behind creating the Ducks and its allure was because of the Oregon Ducks. Coach Keefe said he knew most kids love Oregon for their flash, colors and uniforms changes, so it was a no brainer to name the team after the Ducks to get the attention of the youth. Apparently its been working having a great program littered with talent, with more on its way to represent the Duck brand. Big names that put the program on the map like Class of 2017 QB Tate Martell and Class of 2019 QB J.T. Daniels, have only brought more attention to the team. Coach Keefe is in constant praise of his coaches and players that contribute to the success of the program. Coach Keefe said “he feels like the difference maker is the kids want to be the best, and they work hard and put it in their mind to go all the way”.
With another season soon coming Coach Keefe will be going down a division to coach the 7th grade group that will be sure to compete for another National Championship. This group will be in luck having Coach Keefe for the next 2 years as he intends to move up with this group at the 8th level the following season. But have no fear the 7th grade group that will be 8th grade this year also won a National Title. Keefe noted names to look for this year that are all Class of 2021: Anthony Beavers 5’9 140lbs WR/Saftey, Damon Williams 5’7 145lbs RB/LB, DJ Harvey 5’4 115lbs RB/LB, and Jason Boyle 5’7 140lbs LB. I’m sure Coach Keefe will have this group fired up and ready to go this season.