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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff
A college-aged man picks up a football off of Sheehan Field and drops back for a pass. All around him, children alternately drop into coverage or attempt to get open. The pass, a lob towards the corner of the end zone, is up. Both teams’ eyes are squarely on the ball as it arcs over the short field.
Suddenly, a nine-year-old leaps out and swats the attempt, dramatically batting it down to the ground. The play is dead, the pass incomplete. He proudly admires his handiwork for a split second before jumping up and throwing himself to the ground in a show of bravado not unlike one might expect from Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson.
This is Westwood Flag Football in action, and the kids are going strong in the oppressive heat. The Flag Football program, which runs in seven sessions over the course of the summer, is part of Westwood Recreation’s slate of summer activities.
“We all know enough to teach the kids the importance and the basics of the game,” says Gavin Loughlane, a former Westwood football player and current Holy Cross student who’s in charge of the proceedings.
Loughlane and his fellow counselors are tasked with keeping the games fair and fun, and if the profusion of smiling faces are any indication, they’re doing their job.
Surely, given the pint-sized nature of some of his players, there must be some hilarity involved.
“There are definitely good moments,” he confirms. “Maybe a younger kid makes a one-handed catch and gets up screaming: “Am I [NFL superstar] O’Dell [Beckham] yet?! They know a lot about professional football. So the kids will spike the ball and yell out ‘Gronk!’”
He laughs to himself for a moment as he watches a play develop. “They make a lot of funny modern football references, which shows you that they watch the game a lot, which is nice to see.”
“We have some kids who come every week,” he smiles as a player closes down an opposing ball-carrier and rips off his flag, ending the play. “Some kids really love it.”