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Staff, students huddle over fantasy football
Lakeside club combines math, sports know-how
Football WEB 1
Tyler Bowman, left, and Riley Dean discuss their players in the Lakeside Middle School Fantasy Football Club. - photo by Jim Dean

As teacher Brian Lack walked into Lakeside Middle School to start his day, an excited student yelled down the hallway from behind.

“You whooped us,” shouted Austin Lovell. “Your team scored like eight touchdowns.”

After Lack and several students entered his classroom before school on Wednesday, the totals showed that Lovell’s
“Camo Cows” had, in fact, gone down to Lack’s “Chuck Norris’ Beard” fantasy football team in the second round of the playoffs.

The school’s Fantasy Football Club gives students an opportunity to participate in the game with their classmates and teachers.

The popular competition allows participants to create and manage their own team of professional football players, who score points based on their performance in that week’s National Football League games.

Lack, a math teacher, launched the school club last year, sharing one of his hobbies with students who wanted to give it a try.

This year’s club features 12 teams, each with two, three or four co-owners.

“The kids clamor for this,” Lack said. “There are so many kids that are excited about fantasy football. Most of them know about it through their parents.”

In the school’s head-to-head league, the teams face each other once during the regular season.

In the fantasy postseason, the top six teams advanced to the winners’ bracket and the bottom six to the consolation bracket.

This weekend, the top-seeded team Lack co-owns with students will face the No. 2-seed “Payne in the Neck” for the fantasy championship.

Those in the losers’ bracket are fighting for the “toilet bowl” title.

The season began with an auction in which each team had $200 in fantasy money to bid on players.

Each week, the students gather one morning before school to track their teams, make trades and set their lineups for the coming weekend’s slate of games.

“After that, they pretty much talk trash to one another,” Lack said with a laugh.

On Wednesday, Lovell totaled his points, marveling at tight end Rob Gronkowski’s stellar performance the week before and regretting leaving wide receiver Pierre Garcon on the Camo Cow’s bench.

Though most leagues operate through Web sites that automatically chart the teams, the club uses manual scoring on a spreadsheet.

Tallying the points and finding out how the players scored is Lovell’s favorite part of the league.

Lovell said he was one of a group of students requesting the club last year.

Though a big football fan, he’d never had the opportunity to manage a fantasy team.

Connections teacher Jacque Browning said she had also wanted to give the fantasy game a try, so she attended the club’s first meeting this year.

She joined with students Natalie Smithson and Megan Keller, since they were the only girls, Browning said.

Team “Love Pink” started the season 0-7, but rallied with a winning streak at the end.

“I think we learned there’s a lot about football we don’t know,” Browning said. “Maybe we’ll win the ‘toilet bowl.’”

The female students said their biggest rival for the season was YMCMB, a team Browning described as “very confident.”

YMCMB, which stands for Young Money Cash Money Billionaires, had two first-timers and one experienced manager.

Lack described Blake Sorrell, the longtime fantasy player, as the club’s “king” of trash talk.

Sorrell, who’s playing in three other leagues this fall, has been participating in the hobby since he was 7. It’s a pursuit he shares with his father.

His favorite part of the school’s club league is getting a chance to face off with classmates and gather in a setting each week to discuss their teams. It has also improved his math skills, he said.