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Woodlands Player Punts Far at GPD Competition

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Saturday morning at Hartsdale’s grassy Richard Presser Park, a bunch of kids surrounded police officer Brian Matthews. He gave the football to one of them, Dondi Crawford, 13, then took the boy’s hand and slid it over the ball.

“Very easy,” Matthews said. “Your hand like this, the ball goes like this,” and as Dondi prepared to punt, he added, “Keep your foot flat.”

Dondi punted, his right foot hitting the ball with a stony blow. The ball looped far away, just slightly to the left.

“Beautiful,” Matthews said.

Dondi was one of the dozens of kids who attended the first Punt, Pass and Kick competition organized by the Greenburgh Police Department. There were 50 at around 11:30 a.m., but police officer Steven Deastis said he was expecting many more after the morning soccer games that were happening in some schools, such as Seely Place.

Deastis said that the event’s objective was to strengthen the ties between the police and the youth.

“We’d like to increase the interaction between the kids and the police, so that they get to know us and we get to know them,” said Deastis, who along with Matthews, belongs to the Greenburgh police community affairs unity.

Dondi, an eighth grader in Woodlands and captain of the school’s modified team, said that he joined the competition to build his confidence.

“I am a good kicker, but I don’t really kick that far,” he said.

At least until 11:30 a.m., he had kicked farer than all the other kids, scoring respectively 110, 110.6 and 94.6 feet for punt, pass and kick.

“I want to be a professional NFL player when I grow up,” said Dondi, a running back and defensive guard.

His coach at Woodlands Joe Gallace, also present at the event, said that he is in the right track and that size is not a problem for the 5-foot-9-inch Dondi.

“He is very athletic and agile for a kid this big,” Gallace said.

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