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Rapid rise from ball boy to sprint football starter

Rapid rise from ball boy
to sprint football starter

As the ball boy for the inaugural sprint football team at Franklin Pierce College, Derek Reddy (inset) was in the right place at the right time.

On a work-study assignment last season, Reddy was standing on the sideline when a punt sailed out of bounds during the Ravens’ Collegiate Sprint Football League home opener against the US Naval Academy.

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“I was holding a football in one hand and just reached out and caught the punt with the other hand,” recalled the college junior from Natick, who had been thinking about trying out for the team. “That definitely got our coaching staff’s attention, and two days later I was on the practice field.”

Reddy, who played defensive back and on special teams as a senior at Xaverian Brothers High in Westwood, his only varsity season, has emerged as a mainstay for the Ravens, who completed a 5-2 season this fall in the CSFL.

A defensive back and punter, Reddy was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week for the second consecutive time after he recovered a fumble and intercepted two passes on three straight possessions to preserve a 28-14 lead in Franklin Pierce’s season finale last weekend.

The 170-pound Reddy — who plays at 2 pounds under the league’s weight limit — also boomed a career-best 69-yard punt and made seven tackles during his team’s 42-14 victory over Post University at Pierce’s home field, Oakmont Regional High in Ashburnham.

The Ravens, 1-4 a year ago, also defeated Cornell, Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Mansfield University.

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Reddy finished the season with a league-high six interceptions, 24 tackles (19 solo), a forced fumble, the fumble recovery, five pass breakups and 11 passes defended. He returned one interception 61 yards against Post.

The stats are even more impressive considering Reddy played the entire season with a protective harness on his left shoulder, the result of a torn labrum that will require surgery and may force him to miss the baseball season next spring.

“It was frustrating because I felt I could have played even better,” said Reddy, who would often change in the car from his football pads to his baseball uniform last spring, when both programs were holding practices.

“I kind of got my feet wet last year and found out I could play at this level, which was great because I grew up playing football and missed it,” he added.

“Winning the awards was nice, but ending our season with a four-game winning streak was even better — just a great way to go out.”

Reddy became the Ravens’ punter this season when head coach Peter Ewald held an open tryout.

“Derek’s story is unbelievable,” said Ewald, a defensive back and captain on the Syracuse University varsity football team in the mid-1980s.

“He had signed up to be a ball boy to earn some money, but once he made our team, his athleticism and aggressiveness were obvious, and with a full season under his belt this year, he’s really developed a feel for the game and his position.”

Sprint football, also referred to as lightweight football, has been a tradition for decades at schools like Army and Navy, both members of the CSFL, which was founded before World War II and is a full contact, NCAA-sanctioned sport.

Players must weigh in twice a week to maintain their eligibility; the requirement, Reddy said, “has resulted in our team getting on each other’s case when someone reaches out for that extra roll or dessert. I really watch what I eat.”

Reddy played several positions, including quarterback, during his Pop Warner days in Natick and also made the freshman football team at Natick High. He transferred to Xaverian his sophomore year. Reddy was on the track team, and had a 7-2 pitching record and played outfield his junior year at Xaverian, when the team reached the Division 1 state final.

Natick Racquet Club tennis team
places second at nationals

The USTA New England Section champion 4.5 women’s team, based at Natick Racquet Club, finished second at the recent USTA League Adult 40 & Over national championships, held in Indian Wells, Calif.

Maureen Sumner and Hope Pascucci of Needham serve as team captains. The tournament squad also included Davida Dinerman of Ashland; Alison Albers, Pam Holding, Jennifer Lesnick and Sally Kellogg of Wellesley; Sue Corey of Newton; Nancy van Siclen of Concord; and Kim McCrohon of Worcester.

The regular-season roster was augmented by Wendy McCabe of Weston; Megan Storing Emmett of Newton; and Deb Simpson of Winchester.

Here and there

Jesse Menachem (inset), a 2004 graduate of Framingham High where he was captain of the golf team, has been named executive director of the Massachusetts Golf Association. Menachem, a former junior member at Marlborough Country Club and a Francis Ouimet Scholar, attended Indiana University. While in college, he interned with the MGA. . . . Salve Regina University freshman defender Steven Aston of Sherborn was named Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie of the Week for men’s soccer. A graduate of Dover-Sherborn High, Aston anchored a back line that allowed just one shot on goal during a double-overtime tie against Western New England, and held Wentworth to four shots in a 4-0 win. . .  Sophomore Tommy Ayres of Bolton (Nashoba Regional High) had rounds of 76 and 82 to help Bentley University win the Division 2 title at the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association championships, held at the Captains Golf Course in Brewster. . .  Happy 86th birthday to Dave Green, captain of the 1950 Bates College golf team, and a faithful member of the senior group at the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course in Brookline.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.

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