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No place like 2nd home for Cardinals' Lattimore

August 19, 2011|By BRETT NIEVES | Staff Correspondent

It doesn’t take long to understand what Keon Lattimore enjoys most about playing football for the Chambersburg Cardinals.

It’s not a lucrative contract or being at the hub of a constant media frenzy. It’s something that resonates with many athletes — being close to home.

Lattimore is originally from Lakeland, Fla., which sits about 40 miles east of Tampa. He moved to Maryland and played prep football at Mount St. Joseph High School near Baltimore before playing collegiately at the University of Maryland.

“I had to make the transition from Florida to Maryland and had a lot of people in my corner to make that transition,” Lattimore said. “Maryland is like a second home for me. Going to school close to Baltimore and having my family close was good. Playing close to home right now is great, too.”

He signed a contract with the Cardinals organization earlier this year after a stint with the Trenton Steele, a member of the Southern Indoor Football League.

The Cardinals, who are affiliated the Gridiron Developmental Football League, are having a phenomenal season. The team has dominated its opposition this season, running up an 8-0 record while outscoring opponents 398-42.

The Cardinals close out the regular season on the road tonight at 5 against D.C. Explosion before returning home to host a first-round playoff game next weekend.

“From the top to the bottom of the whole staff — that’s coaching staff, general manager, the players and everybody in the city of Chambersburg — it’s been amazing since I’ve been here,” Lattimore said. “It’s been amazing how quick the team has jelled so far, we’re putting up points and stopping teams. And I’m just happy to be apart of something like this right now.”

Playing in Chambersburg is a stark contrast from what Lattimore was used to at Maryland, or during his time in the National Football League. The Cardinals play at Chambersburg Area Senior High School’s Trojan Stadium, which seats about 7,000 people.

To Lattimore, it’s just about playing football.

“There’s still competition out there and I don’t take it lightly. It’s all football at the end of the day and you have to compete to the best of your ability,” Lattimore said.

Like most football players, the ultimate goal is to reach the NFL. Lattimore has been in NFL camps — making stops with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars — but he has never gotten beyond the practice squad.

“I’m keeping those dreams and hopes alive,” Lattimore said. “I’m here with Chambersburg, representing the Cardinals, still playing and just getting film up and hopefully, God willing, I end up back in the NFL.”

Lattimore is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, so his passion for football runs in the family. He also has a passion for people, and he uses his name and position to reach out and help the community with the Keon Lattimore Foundation.

“The main goal with that is to help young adults and make them feel like they have a place in society,” Lattimore said. “I’ve been a lot of places and you can see that some people are less fortunate that you are, and I was in a position to give back.

Lattimore’s foundation is based around housing single moms, helping kids out with education by providing college scholarships, raising breast cancer awareness and even delving into the Special Olympics — something he has done with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

“I come from a single-mom home, and I didn’t want to see another kid come from that situation because I know what it feels like,” Lattimore said.

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