Banner unveiled to mark Springfield Central football player’s national award

Banner unveiled to mark Springfield Central football player’s national award
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 1:59 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - One local high school football player was presented with a prestigious national award on Wednesday and he’s using the opportunity to give back to his community.

“You don’t win awards like that by yourself…A lot of people had their hand in it, so it’s just another opportunity for us to celebrate,” said Bill Watson, Pop Watson’s father and head football coach at Springfield Central High School.

On Wednesday, former Springfield Central quarterback Pop Watson III unfurled the banner celebrating his “2022 Gatorade Massachusetts Football Player of the Year” award.

“This is what I wanted to do all my life. I wanted to get older and represent my state, my city, and also give back to my city,” Watson added.

Watson is the first Central player to receive the national honor, which is given to only 50 players in the country each season. This year, the Central standout accounted for over 3,200 total yards and found the end zone 39 times, which led the Golden Eagles to an appearance in the Division I state championship.

Watson, who graduated early and currently attends Virginia Tech on a football scholarship, also announced a $1,000 donation to help five families in Springfield pay for football-related expenses.

“I wanted those kids that are growing up just how I grew up to have some weight off their shoulders. Every kid doesn’t have all the money in the world,” Pop Watson explained.

Bill Watson told Western Mass News he hopes it’s the start of a bigger trend.

“Maybe the next person coming up after him is competitive and they say ‘Oh, you’re paying for five families? I’m going to pay for six,’” Bill Watson explained.

Pop Watson, who led Central to two state championships over his four-year career, said this only scratches the surface of his long-term goal to give back.

“If they had a home game, I was there. I wanted to support them because I knew, when I was in that, how much the support from high school kids meant a lot…New uniforms, new helmets, probably team cleats, I’m trying to do it big,” Pop Watson noted.

Pop Watson will return to Virginia Tech at the end of this week where he said he’ll continue to be a sponge for information and inspire the next generation of Springfield football players.