Cecil Doggette was running on little sleep and a lot of coffee. Yet on Sept. 12, standing on a field adjacent to the Pickerington Christian Church, he couldn't stop smiling.

Cecil Doggette was running on little sleep and a lot of coffee. Yet on Sept. 12, standing on a field adjacent to the Pickerington Christian Church, he couldn't stop smiling.

If Doggette was tired, it wasn't noticeable. He continuously wound his way among the four fields despite frequent interruptions from parents and kids.

Once Doggette had a brief moment to himself, he scanned the church's large back yard. Four football fields were marked off as numerous kids, ranging from ages 2-14, played flag football.

"I'm here to have fun," Doggette said. "Look at this. This is a fun atmosphere."

Doggette is the commissioner of the Ohio Youth Flag Football Association (OYFFA) that celebrated its one-year anniversary Sept. 6. On Sept. 12, Pickerington was one of four communities to hold a "Jamboree" that allowed the newly selected teams to scrimmage from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Doggette has opened OYFFA leagues in Canal Winchester, Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Lewis Center, Pickerington, Powell, Reynoldsburg, Westerville and Worthington. The NFL supports the league and ships jerseys, flags and footballs to leagues like it throughout the country.

Doggette still was awaiting his shipment two days before the Jamboree.

"I didn't want to cancel a week or anything like that," Doggette said. "So I had to do what I do as commish."

On Sept. 11, Doggette flew to Philadelphia. From there, he had a former fraternity brother at West Virginia University drive him to New Jersey. Once in the Garden State, Doggette rented a moving truck and drove to a warehouse owned by the NFL. He picked up his shipment in person and then drove from New Jersey back to Ohio.

Doggette arrived in Columbus at 1 a.m. Sept. 12. He pulled into the Pickerington Christian Church's parking lot five-and-a-half hours later.

Football always has been a part of Doggette's life. Born in Queens, N.Y., Doggette played football at Flushing (N.Y.) Bayside High School. In 1990, he transferred from Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., to West Virginia, where he started two years for the Mountaineers. In 1991, he broke the school's single-season record for pass break-ups with nine in the first three games of the season.

After graduating from WVU, Doggette bounced around numerous professional leagues, including the NFL and Arena League.

He made a home in the AFL and was named to the AFL All-Ironman first-team in 1999 and 2004 and second-team in 2002.

Doggette's final season was 2006 as a member of the Columbus Destroyers. He was second on the team in tackles (63) and pass break-ups (10). He retired May 1, 2006, and for the next two seasons he was an assistant coach with the Destroyers.

"I knew (2008) was my last season coaching," Doggette said. "It was too much time involved, and I wanted to make sure I was spending more time with my family and had more flexibility with my schedule."

Doggette also was coaching his son, Cecil, 4, in a flag-football league in Powell. Each week, the Doggette family made the trek from Pickerington.

"It was one of the best experiences I ever had," Doggette said.

"I loved seeing the little guys pick it up and understand football. That sparked it."

Doggette could not find a league closer to their home. Because his degree from WVU was in sports management, he decided to put it to use.

"I understand how kids tick, and I decided to start a league up," Doggette said.

In one year, the OYFFA has blossomed, and a big reason is the positive feedback and word-of-mouth testimonials from parents.

"Our neighbor participated last year and said they enjoyed the experience," said Pickerington resident Jamison Speidel, whose son, Joey, plays for the Broncos in the "mini mites" division for ages 4-5. "We're always encouraging them to try something new. They've done T-ball, soccer and gymnastics. Football is once a week, and it's five minutes from our home."

Speidel and his wife, Dawn, also got their daughter, Sarah, involved in the OYFFA's cheerleading program.

"We've been very impressed with how it's run," Dawn Speidel said.

OYFFA's core commitment, Kids F.I.R.S.T., can be found on the front of the yellow "Staff" shirts worn by Doggette and his volunteers. The acronym stands for fun, instruction, respect, sportsmanship and teamwork.

"Everything we do is structured so the kids have a great experience," Doggette said. "We don't have tryouts, but we have a draft day party, a Super Bowl tournament and a parents game at the end of the season. We get everybody involved."

The draft day party allows players to find out what team they play for in a setting similar to the NFL's April extravaganza in New York City. Players received a T-shirt and had to sign a contract that says the players promise to respect the coaches, teammates and their parents.

"Cecil has the best philosophy for it being fun for the kids," Jamison Speidel said. "It is a great thing for the kids to be able to hear, 'Joey Speidel has been selected by the Broncos.' That makes it a lot of fun."

Doggette has a plan for the future of the OYFFA and it involves expanding throughout the state. It will create more work for him, but he's ready and willing.

On Sept. 12, Doggette's role as commissioner also included referee, coach, cheerleader and originator. When a cup of coffee was not in his right hand, a bullhorn took its place, informing the parents and players on the day's schedule.

"I have a lot of help," he said. "But I don't want to be the guy just standing around."

Doggette's goal from creating a flag football league close to his home has long since been surpassed. Regardless of where the next OYFFA opens its operations, Doggette is determined to keep the same principals.

"I want to spread the word that youth sports does not have to be out of control," he said. "Parents don't have to be yelling at each other, their kids or the refs. We shouldn't be putting pressure on them right now. They're kids, they're going got make mistakes, and it's OK."

Pride filled Doggette as he discussed the OYFFA and its current and future state. He seemed content and at peace with where his life has taken him after 16 years of playing and coaching in professional football.

"When I finally came out and said I was done with coaching football, I wondered what I was going to do and what makes me tick," he said. "It's the kids and football. It's my life."

And with that, all Doggette could do was smile.