NOSTALGIA

Favorite Street Football Pass Plays

“Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day.” –J.J. Watt

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Several years ago my brothers and I re-visited the neighborhood where we grew up in New Jersey. Forty years previous our family moved into a new housing development of three and four bedroom homes in Bridgewater. As my brothers and I drove about the neighborhood, we were flooded with memories. Here’s the spot I jumped out of a moving car. There’s the pace in the woods where our fort used to be.

Significantly, it had been a vibrant community with lots of kids of all ages. The isolation created by living in the ‘burbs is a common theme in books and movies, but during that Sixties era things were different in our neighborhood. There were kids in abundance, and grabbing a few for a pickup football game was a snap. To play football it only took five or six to get a pretty good game on.

I had a brother Ron, two years younger than I, who was always ready to play. Tom Browne lived next door in the house above, Kenny Koons in the house below. The McAvoys were a few houses up the road, and with that we were set. If there were five, I would be quarterback on both teams with no pass rush. Six, we’d play three on three. And there was nearly always room for one more.

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Drawing by the author.

The asphalt road made a perfect “field” for this setup. The brick curb provided a clear demarcation for what was out of bounds. The end zones could be from the telephone pole to the Koons’ driveway, or any other length that seemed suitable. It was touch football at its finest, involving psychology and finesse.

In retrospect, it was a great way to develop basic football skills. For quarterbacks, timing and accuracy are paramount. For receivers, developing good hands was the essential skill, as well as footwork and feints in the psychological game of beating the defense. Defenders learned how to read the offense and react. Playing street football on a daily basis enables you to practice, practice, practice. Besides, it was fun.

Generally we’d play three complete is a first down. Sometimes we’d go long just to keep the defenders honest, but it was pretty tough to defend against these short timing routes.

The illustration here shows a typical play that I might call. It begins with a crossing pattern which creates just enough confusion in the defenders to give the receiver an edge. The receiver begin straight along the curbs, and at about three steps out begin the cross. The right end is counting to five with the one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand cadence. At five the receiver breaks back toward the quarterback, with the ball already on its way. Almost impossible to defend against.

More football memories to come.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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