By Angel Verdejo

Killeen Daily Herald

Being a ball boy at Belton is a good thing.

Freshmen football players are picked based on their grades, work ethic on and off the field and overall attitude. All things considered, these guys are future varsity football players.

But traveling with the varsity and being on the sidelines Friday nights isn't all fun and games.

Just make sure you get the ball in on time.

"It's a reward for them," Belton head coach Rodney Southern said. "Sometimes they don't think it is when they don't get the ball in, but that's what we do it for."

With all the bodies on Belton's sideline during a game, coupled with the fast-past action, the Tigers don't use children. It's moved adopted by many schools to help avoid dangerous situations and unnecessary injuries.

Plus, if paying attention to the game is your top duty, most young children might find themselves easily distracted. It even happens with some of the "rewarded" Tigers, who find themselves staring into the crowd.

"I want them watching the game," Southern said.

Against Copperas Cove last Friday, Stephen Snyder and Jayme Kidder were the two ball boys.

Ball boys get the whole varsity experience, one Southern said he hopes can translate to less-nervous players when they reach the varsity level. Defensive back Kyle Battle and wide receiver Wolf Mahler are sophomores, varsity players and former ball boys.

Ball boys are with varsity from start to finish on gameday, from the game pre-game meal to warm-ups to halftime. They are introduced to the officials before the game and instructed on what to do.

The two ball boys trail the official on the sidelines (line judge), rotating a new ball in when needed or sending a ball in to help spot on the field.

If there is inclement weather, a third person is usually added to the ball boy crew, with his sole job to continually wipe down the footballs and rotate new ones in nearly every play.

But with the work comes the experience of being in the game.

"I just think the atmosphere – the fact of the number of people on the sidelines, the intensity and when all that hitting is going on and it's coming right at me," Southern said. "Or big plays or touchdowns. You can't duplicate that in a freshman football game or any circumstances really. It gives those kids a chance to see that."

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