Youngsters dash across Moriarty High School’s football field waving their arms, shouting “I’m open!” A football spirals through the air. Several hands reach toward the ball to catch it.

On the final day of Moriarty’s Pintos Football Camp, all the participants got to play a game of flag football.

It was a big hit.

Split into teams by age, players wore colored flags that looked like long ribbons dangling from their hips. They ran plays and tried to move the ball across the width of the school’s football field. A group of younger campers caught passes from Moriarty football players acting as quarterbacks. The older campers’ teams had their own designated quarterbacks throwing passes to receivers. Loud cheers rang out when someone scored a touchdown.

“Flag foot-ball!” 5-year-old Anthony Curry said enthusiastically when asked what he liked best about the camp.

“Yeah, playing flag football,” echoed Anthony’s older brother Matthew.

The Curry brothers, Anthony and 8-year-old Matthew, were two of the roughly 60 kids, ranging from 5 to 12 years old, who came out last week to the three-day camp.

It was Moriarty’s first summer football camp since 2019. Moriarty coaches and players ran the camp, helping kids learn about the fundamentals of football—blocking, tackling, running, throwing and catching passes, and scoring touchdowns.

“Yeah, the best part is when you get to score a touchdown,” Matthew Curry said.

Moriarty head coach Gabe Romero said he was pleased with the turnout.

“It was good, we had a lot of kids, it was good to see them out here just having fun,” Romero said. “Hopefully they picked up some football skills, but we just want to have them out here having fun.”

The first day focused on offense, the second day focused on defense, and the third day had kids playing flag football. The camp wrapped up with all the kids running through an obstacle course.

“The kids look forward to that obstacle course at the end,” Romero said.

Romero said an essential part of the camp was having Moriarty’s players work with the campers.

“That’s part of what we want, for our older kids to get out here and share their love of football with these kids,” Romero said. “And hopefully we’ll see these kids coming through the program in the next few years.”

Janessa Torres, 9, who said she likes football “a lot,” participated in the camp with her brother Jaxon, 11.

“I like being aggressive,” Janessa said about why she likes football, adding, “I like the flag football part and I also like the obstacle course.”

When asked how she feels about going toe-to-toe with the boys, Janessa said, “I don’t care. I made a touchdown because I’m fast.”

Jaxson Torres said he hopes to play football in middle school and high school. He said he likes playing the position of wide receiver.

“When I catch a pass, it feels like I’m getting better,” Jaxon said.

Janessa’s and Jaxon’s mom, Tara, added, “They were looking forward to this camp, they were really excited to be here. I think we were all excited for [the camp] to come back.”

Romero said he hoped the campers learned that playing football can be hard, but it is also a lot of fun.

“You know, it’s a fun sport,” Romero said. “And we just want them to enjoy it and continue playing.”