“Third and inches!” a youngster yelled as he ran back to the line of scrimmage during a flag football game at Moriarty High School’s stadium. Moments later, another youngster threw a pass into the end zone that was caught for a touchdown and immediately followed by an array of fists pumping the air in celebration.
It was one of several flag football games going on during the final day of the Future Pintos Football Camp, June 11-13.
About 50 kids ranging in ages from 5 to 12 participated in the annual three-day camp.
“We had really good numbers in first through fifth grade, that makes up the majority of the kids,” said Moriarty’s new head football coach Gabe Romero, who piloted the camp. “Our big thing is to get the kids involved, give them something to do over the summer.”
Romero, plus a few assistant coaches and a handful of Moriarty’s varsity players, provided fun and instruction on the basic ins and outs of football, from blocking and tackling to running and passing, emphasizing different positions each day.
“We focused a lot on offense the first day, quarterbacks and receivers, then defense on the second day, defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs, and then we broke them up into age groups for flag football on the third day,” Romero said.
For many of the kids, playing offense was the most appealing part of the camp.
“I like the offense, like receivers, where you catch the ball and make touchdowns and stuff,” 10-year-old Royce Dennison said.
Royce’s mother, Andrea Dennison, said she liked that the kids are “learning the game of football and developing a young love for the game.”
“The best part was on day one, receiving,” said Jonas Cordova, a rising fifth-grader at Route 66 Elementary School. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s 11.”
“The flag football was fun,” said 12-year-old Kristina Means, a rising sixth-grader at Moriarty Middle School and one of the only girls attending the camp. “I liked it a lot.”
Each day concluded with various Pintos-related cheers, including the traditional group-huddled-together, extended hands toward the center, “Pintos on three… One-two-three, Pintos!”
Romero acknowledged that cultivating a little Pintos pride is part of the game plan.
“We want them to start seeing what football’s about, but that’s also our hope, that these kids want to someday wear the green and white,” Romero said. “To get them to love football and to want to be Pintos.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.