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Punt, pass, kickoff

Washington County 2004 Junior Football League season opens

Washington County 2004 Junior Football League season opens

September 07, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - With his eye looking through a telescope at the Washington County Junior Football League opening ceremonies Monday morning, "football dad" Preston Smith said he had his eye on only one talent - his 13-year-old son.

His son, Dustin Smith, plays cornerback for the Hagerstown Giants, one of 22 teams in the junior football league, which began its season Monday at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park.

Gray skies were cast over the field as each colorfully suited member of the league was called. Some cheerleaders, a few wearing jackets, did cartwheels and back handsprings as their names were announced over a loudspeaker.

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A rematch of last year's championship game between the Williamsport Bears and Hagerstown Packers was the first game played at the field.

Around the field, between 2,000 and 3,000 parents and children either sat on bleachers, lawn chairs or milled about along the fences and sidelines. The Bears won the game Monday and were the champions last year, said Don Davis, president of the league. He said five games were to be played on Monday.

Prior to the game, Greg Worthington, father of Chase Worthington, 13, also a Giants player, said that he didn't mind the gray skies, which later would be the source of sprinkles.

"It makes you feel like football," he said.

Both fathers, Worthington and Smith said that they'll pass up watching professional football in order to watch their sons play any day.

"These kids play their hearts out," said Smith, 46. He said that it's pretty common for the boys to see their teammates from baseball season wearing an opposing team's football jersey.

Billy Butts, 12, a member of the Clear Spring Chargers, said that he doesn't worry about his friends playing on opposing teams. He just wants to "make it to the playoffs," he said.

Hagerstown Redskins defensive guard D.J. Sikes has a game plan for getting that champion medal.

His season goals are "to intercept all the balls I can. Try to hurt many people, but not that many," he said, his face getting serious.

Sikes, 9, said this year marks his third year playing football. He said he was counting down the days this summer until junior league football started.

Hagerstown Buccaneers tight end Dalton Scriever said he likes opening day because he gets to walk around and see "what we're up against."

He has a game plan this season, too: "I wanna get a lot of tackles, a lot of playing time," he said.

As whistles pierced the air behind her, Williamsport Vikings cheerleader Marlie Walker said that she was excited about opening day, too, although the weather surprised her a little bit.

Walker, 13, who was wearing a sleeveless uniform shirt and skirt, said, "It's freezing."

Verona and Erick Parker were bundled up for the weather. Monday marked their son, Erick Jr.'s, first official day as a member of the Smithsburg Patriots.

The couple said that they are getting used to juggling their son's practices with everyday tasks.

"You revolve around him now," said Verona Parker, 35.

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