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Hopkinton’s return to youth tackle football a success

by | Nov 6, 2023 | Sports

Grade 3/4 tackle football team 23

Hopkinton’s youth tackle football program returned in style this season, with a team of players in Grades 3 and 4 holding their own in the Eastern Massachusetts American Youth Football League fourth grade division.

The season ended Nov. 1 with a loss to top-seeded King Philip in the first round of the playoffs.

Highlights included qualifying for the postseason with a 3-5 record and beating Holliston for the first victory of the season.

The team, which played home games at the Fruit Street turf field, also enjoyed visits from Hopkinton High School varsity players, who helped run drills at some practices.

Coach Matt Pantera, who helps Bryan Brown run the program, said he’s hopeful this is the start of something big.

“This was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to bring tackle football back to the youth level in Hopkinton,” he said. “We look forward to building this program so that we have tackle teams at every level, from third grade through middle school.”

Hopkinton used to have a big tackle program (combined with Ashland), but it was paused when the pandemic hit and never revived. Tackle players from Hopkinton since have been playing with the Holliston program, while others moved to the popular flag football program in town.

“We’d like to have tackle teams in each grade and continue to integrate with the middle school and high school coaches,” Pantera said. “The future looks bright.”

Hopkinton youth tackle football

Jack Pantera holds off a King Philip defender. PHOTO/STEPHANIE CROSS

Hopkinton youth tackle football

Calvin Ricci carries the ball. PHOTO/STEPHANIE CROSS

Hopkinton youth tackle football

The players line up on the sideline. PHOTO/STEPHANIE CROSS

Hopkinton youth tackle football

The team gets some instruction. PHOTO/STEPHANIE CROSS

Hopkinton youth tackle football

Players (from left) Cam van Raalten, Jack Pantera and Jaxon Freeman pose at midfield. PHOTO/STEPHANIE CROSS

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