The budding star took the handoff from his quarterback and started running.

Clear sailing.

Nobody between him and the end zone.

He was going to score.

There was just one problem — he was running the wrong way.

His coach tried to alert him. One of his teammates realized the situation and tried to pull the flag attached to his belt with Velcro.

Hey, even NFL players have made the same mistake. At least he had a very good excuse — it was the opening night of the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Flag Football League and many of these tikes had never played the game before.

He didn’t cost his teams any points on the play. And he eventually found his bearings and ripped off a couple of big gainers in the right direction.

You see and hear plenty of things you don’t usually witness watching more experienced players.

Later, another child chased his teammate until he managed to pull off one of his flags for a “tackle,” ending the play. He learned the objective is to grab the flag. He just didn’t realize you shouldn’t do that to your teammate with the football.

It just takes time for youngsters to keep track of all the rules and objectives.

Eighty-two kids ages 5-12 comprise eight teams playing in three age divisions.

All it takes to score a touchdown is to cross the plane of the goal line. But a couple of speedy runners didn’t seem to realize where they were on the field and kept on running out of the end zone and didn’t stop until they came to the fence surrounding Field 2 at Rumsey Park where games take place Monday-Thursday nights.

“I lost my teeth,” said one player far too young to wear dentures before bending down to pick up his mouthpiece.

Coaches spend much of their time directing kids where to stand before the next play and reattaching the belts the flags attach to after the play. Those darned belts seem to come off way too easily.

These youngsters love playing the game. But they seem to enjoy the end of the game even more. That’s because after they gather and give a shout out to their opponent and line up to slap hands with their rivals, they flock to the sidelines for post-game treats that usually feature a snack food and a juice box. Their coach rewarded the Steelers with Ritz Bits and juice boxes after battling the Ravens in the opener.

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