Special Olympians go for gridiron gold

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Date sent: 2017/11/13 08:46:24
The key to throwing the football on a blustery fall day, said Tagan Reeves, is not to put too much air underneath the ball.
“You can’t throw it up,” he said.
Reeves knows what he’s talking about, <a href=""></a> having just led his Abilene Mustangs to a 20-8 win against the Red Hot Chili Peppers from the Betty Hardwick Center Saturday morning at the Area 14 Big Country/Concho Valley Flag Football tournament at the Action Zone football field.
The Mustangs and the Chili Peppers were joined by the San Angelo Twisters in the round-robin tournament which also featured a skills competition. About 51 athletes in all competed in the event.
The teams played a five-man format which featured three Special Olympians along with two “partners” on a half-field. The Mustangs won the opening game behind the quarterback play off Reeves and a two touchdown performance by Michael Martinez.
The game was a contrast in styles between the Mustangs, who ran their plays from the shotgun formation, and the more traditional style of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose quarterback Johnny Wilson, took the snap from directly behind the center and then dropped back three paces, the way Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr used to do it. However, the speed of the Mustangs, particularly that of Martinez, was too much for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Mustangs finished third last year but served notice in the opening game that they would be a bigger factor this year.
“It will be a little bit different this year,” said Martinez, who played for the Cooper High School Cougars in 2013, even making the field against Abilene High in the Crosstown Showdown that year.
“We’re going to play hard and go for the gold,” promised Reeves, showing that he not only had the quarterback part down pat, but also knew which clichés to use.
This was the third flag football tournament by the Area 14 Special Olympics, which Luann Chastain introduced when she became the area director. She said that flag football was a good sport for her athletes because it incorporated so many different skills.
“It works on speed and agility and upper body strength, which they need,” she said.
The Area 14 Special Olympics has 10 <a href=""></a> sports throughout the year, including the big track and field event in the spring.
“We keep them busy all year,” said Chastain. “We tend to do a lot during the school year. The athletes deserve this.”
Martinez, whose favorite football player is Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, said his favorite sport is football, particularly when he scores touchdowns. However, he quickly added track and swimming to his list of favorite sports.
“All of the above,” he said.
Martinez’ love of sports didn’t exactly differentiate him from the rest of the competitors, Chastain noted.
“They’re all competitive,” she said.

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