The start of flag football is here in Bulldog Country as the draft will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, at the high school football field.

A total of 91 St. Clair students have signed up for the Junior Dogs National Football League Flag program. It is open to boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade.

For this season, 38 third through fifth-graders, about 40 first- and second-graders and 15 kindergartners will participate in the program.

The grades are divided into three divisions, which will be split up into teams named after professional football teams.

In 2015, Coach Doug Thurman brought the National Football League sponsored program to St. Clair and it has grown each year.

The cost for a child to play is $50 for the entire season and it includes jerseys and equipment, he said.

The draft will start at 10 a.m. and players need to be at the high school turf by 9 a.m., according to Thurman.

Coaches will announce who will play for their team and hand out their jerseys, similar to a professional football draft.

“I’m looking forward to knowing that we have 91 kids who are going to fall in love with the game of football,” Thurman said.

A photographer is scheduled to take photos of the players holding up their jerseys with their families on draft day as well.

The ideas behind the flag football program are safety and collecting enough interest for students to join the junior high football team, Thurman said.

“When they get to seventh-grade junior high football, I can hand 50 kids over to (Activities Director) Brian Robbins and say ‘Here’s 50 ready to rock and roll,’ ” he said.

Flag football practices will start Monday, Aug. 20, and coaches will schedule specific times on draft day. There are six weeks to the regular season with three being practices and the last three being games.

Opening day will be Saturday, Sept. 8, according to Thurman. The playoffs and the Super Bowl, held on the same day, will be Saturday, Oct. 20.

“It’s all about getting them to love the game of football and grow up to be big Bulldogs,” he said.