SAN ANTONIO — Down! Set! Hike! 

Extreme Flag Football is blitzing South Texas for young talent this summer,  blending elements of flag football and tackle football. 

Players suit up with helmets and shoulder pads on their upper body and flags with shorts on their lower body. 

The league is a nonprofit organization founded by head coach Chad Hester. He says, as a father, he wants to encourage more teams to teach athletes professional techniques while keeping them safe from injuries.

"The reality is we lost over 11,000 high school football players last year nationwide, despite adding over 200 new football programs,” Hester explained.

He launched the league in Austin in 2009 and says he looks forward to seeing it expand each year as more parents opt for safer methods of introducing their younger children to contact sports. This fall will mark the third year of league play in South Texas. 

“It’s a big jump going from flag football to middle school tackle football,” Hester said. “I didn’t see anything out there like this, so I created Extreme Flag Football to bridge that gap.”

The sport trains kids from first through sixth grade on how to make contact safely while staying on their feet to grab flags. Hester affirmed that this discipline develops kids to be more self-aware on the field and less likely to cause injuries to themselves or others when they engage in full contact tackle football.

Early registration ends June 21, and regular registration is open until August 25. For more information about Extreme Flag Football South Texas, click here.