‘Football is my thing’
Santos was born in Brazil. Four years ago, he and his sister, Stephanie, now 20, moved to Framingham. It was Atila’s first time in America. “It was very difficult. I couldn’t say a word in English. My dad spoke English, but very poorly.”
He played volleyball his freshman year, and tried out for football as a sophomore, “but I wasn’t playing a lot,” he said. “So I quit.”
He watched NFL games and decided he missed playing. “I was in the weight room about a week after I quit. Coach Doherty said if I decide to play again, he’d take me back.”
This season has been a revelation for Atila (pronounced (arch-ila). “I found out football is my sport,” he said. “My thing. It’s been amazing.”
He started at defensive end — “where he could make an impact,” said Doherty — in the season opener against Wellesley. “We won. I still remember the score: 47-20,” said Santos.
He wants to play in college. But money is a problem. “I need a scholarship,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved him to linebacker in college,” said Doherty. “He has great, great speed.”
The last four years have flown by. His last game is against traditional Thanksgiving Day archrival Natick.
Santos goes back to Brazil once a year. “I miss everything,” he said. It’s been a blessing having Lamas around. “We met at Fuller Middle School, the first year I got here,” said Santos. “It was really helpful.”
Two Brazilian boys carrying a lot on their shoulders, their mothers in one country, their fathers in another. They’re still adapting to their new environment, a new sport and the voluminous college paperwork to be filled out. It’s been a long journey. They’re determined to see it through. Like brothers.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at email@example.com.