Fonda-Fultonville football gets inventive with trick-play TD pass


Fonda-Fultonville offensive lineman Derek Duval, right, prepares to throw a touchdown pass on a trick play during an Oct. 22 game against Mechanicville in Fonda. (Screenshot from Fonda-Fultonville Athletics/NFHS Network)

There are plenty of trick plays in football, but the one that Fonda-Fultonville dusted off last Friday against Mechanicville was a doozy.

It was the kind of play that elicited a simple reaction: “Wait, what?”

Up 21-0 in the second quarter of their senior night game, the Braves lined up near midfield. Jackson Cusack went in motion, and took a jet sweep handoff from quarterback Connor Weaver. Cusack then turned and threw a cross-field lateral to Derek Duval, who chucked a 40-yard missile to a wide-open Weaver downfield for the touchdown.

At its simplest, the play is a double pass, a fairly common gadget play.

With one tiny — well, pretty big — exception.

Duval? He’s Fonda-Fultonville’s 285-pound left tackle.

“Derek’s a great kid,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Sean Thompson said. “He’s a three-year starter, he’s one of our captains. The kids have been lobbying us to do it since the beginning of the season, and we knew they’d be excited about it. We just said, ‘What the heck?’ ”

The origins of the play go back to last season, when Duval — also a standout pitcher on Fonda-Fultonville’s baseball team — regularly showed off his impressive arm strength prior to practices.

“He’d be throwing the ball 50 yards in the air,” Thompson said, “and he’d always say, ‘Coach, you’ve got to let me throw a pass.’ ”

Eventually, the idea got kicked around during a coaches’ meeting, with Thompson zeroing in on a pair of crucial questions: Could they design a play that would work, and would it be legal?

Thompson said one of his assistants contacted a friend who works as an official who, after some further consulting, came back with the answer the Braves’ staff was looking for. As long as Duval received the ball on a lateral behind the line of scrimmage, then throwing a pass was perfectly legal.

Assistant coach Mike Mancini designed the play and, Thompson said, “we just waited for the right moment to run it.”

Figuring out “the right moment” took a little bit of time.

“It’s got to be in the right position of the field, in the right moment,” Thompson said. “It could be catastrophic if you don’t run it right.”

The perfect situation finally arose against Mechanicville, with Fonda-Fultonville — which will visit Watervliet on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Section II Class C tournament — already on its way to a 47-0 victory.

Far from catastrophic, the play went off without a hitch, and garnered dozens of likes and retweets when shared on social media.

“It was a lot of fun,” Thompson said. “It’s something that the kids will always remember.

“That’s what it’s all about — having fun.”

By Adam Shinder

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