Youths tackle new season
Washington County Junior Football League play begins
Smithsburg Jets player #80 Robert Hood snaps on his helmet at the start of Monday's Washington County Junior Football League game against the WIlliamsport Bears at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park. (By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer)
On Monday, in the Junior Division, the Williamsport Bears took on the Smithsburg Jets. The Hagerstown Giants and the Hagerstown Packers were scheduled to meet afterward.
The season openers on Labor Day weekend drew hundreds of families to the park to root for players and cheerleaders.
Jenny Page and her sister, Sherry Cunningham, were there to watch Page's son, Nicholas Andreaccio, play his first game as a Bear.
"I'm nervous just to see him get hit," she said.
Page recently moved back to Hagerstown after 25 years away. She and Nicholas lived in Tucson, Ariz., for a while, then Nicholas lived with his father in Las Vegas, Nev., before mother and son moved here.
Page said football seemed like a good way for Nicholas, a Williamsport Middle School student, to connect with children his age.
Page's boyfriend, Bill Peterson, was working the yardage chains along the field. His son Trey also was playing.
Among the Jets' fans, Tim Stevenson was rooting for his grandson, Jay Palmer, another newcomer to the league.
"I said: 'If you're going to go with it, you've got to go all out. Go 100 percent,'" said Stevenson, who played football for South Hagerstown High School in 1969.
Stevenson said young players must pick up the fundamentals of the game and learn good sportsmanship, without getting too absorbed with wins and losses.
A line of sport-utility vehicles were parked against a fence, with rear lift gates open, creating a tailgate-like atmosphere.
The group there included the family of 11-year-old Hagerstown Packers linebacker Franklin Kulpinski — mother, Cheryl; father, Bill; brother, Mick, 5; and sister, Jeannine, 10.
Cheryl said Franklin loves football, particularly the Washington Redskins.
"He couldn't wait to join," she said.
The Packers players and relatives have become "like family," Cheryl said.
The Bears vs. Jets game in the A division, for grades 7 and 8, was halted temporarily when a player suffered a head injury. The player was taken to Meritus Medical Center, according to a Washington County 911 dispatch supervisor.