Late sub Gambrills-Odenton players perform like champs in national public service TV spot

Wildcats rush into NFL spotlight

September 13, 2006|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

The Gambrills-Odenton Recreation Council 95-pound football team often draws crowds to its games. But every week this fall, millions are seeing the Wildcats in action.

Some members of the Wildcats wound up being last-minute replacements in a public service announcement filmed for USA Football, an independent, nonprofit organization that advocates the development of youth and amateur football.

The kids, ages 9 and 10, some parents and coach Rick Peacock spent a long day at North County High School in July filming the public service announcement supporting USA Football's Play Football Month, which runs from mid-August to mid-September.

The 30- and 60-second spots are being shown regularly during televised NFL games as part of a promotional campaign with the league and its Players Association. The announcement will also be used in other forms for the rest of this season and beyond.

Peacock, the assistant director of national programs at USA Football, stepped in after a last-minute problem meant it had no team for the announcement just days before the shoot.

He turned to North County football coach Gary Liddick, who helped make the school available for the filming. Then Peacock pulled in about 15 of his players and 10 sets of parents for the shoot that began about 7 a.m. July 25.

In the commercial, an actor hired by the company producing the spot plays a coach who does it all - registering the kids to play, preparing the field for play to lining the field and running a practice. At the end of the spot, a player the coach worked with makes a big catch and runs for a touchdown.

"The concept behind the commercial is how much work a youth coach does [without] getting paid a dime," Peacock said. "They're coaching the game they love and enjoying it."

Peacock said the filming took place according to scenes, with the final ones being shot first. And each scene was shot up to seven times.

When one was done, the crew would break down the set and movie it to a different location at North County.

Some scenes took place in the hallways, at the building's entrance along with those on the field.

The kids enjoyed the whole experience because, partially, of the seemingly never-ending supply of things like pizza, doughnuts, juice and Popsicles on a warm day.

"It was fun," Gambrills-Odenton wide receiver Grayson Torian said after scoring a touchdown in one of the scenes. "The best thing about football is running and trying to score, and when you do that, it's the best feeling."

Those involved in the project enjoyed seeing it premiere on national television when Philadelphia played Oakland in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 6.

It's been on a number of other times since, and USA Football liked the final product.

"We were extremely pleased with the Anne Arundel league, and what Rick was able to do in order to pull together the parents and the children in such a short time," said Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football's executive director. "That, in large part, allowed us to be successful. It's a real credit to the parents for rallying together so quickly."

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