Cape loses a football founding father

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Paul Lavallee would sometimes throw a football around with some of his children on Sundays on fields in Cape Elizabeth. That’s where he met Dick Emerson, who was out doing the same about 10 years ago.

“We got together every Sunday, talking about football,” Emerson recalls. “One time we were asked to clear the field, and Paul wanted to know why. Someone said, ‘This is a soccer town.'”

Lavallee, who passed away Monday at age 63 after a long illness, had played football in high school and college and, according to Emerson, his friend “addressed things like he was blocking on a running play. He just moved forward.”

Not long after being admonished, Lavallee, Emerson and some other Cape Elizabeth parents raised money and, in 1998, they started a youth football program for the town. Lavallee served as the organization’s first president.

The Cape team started with its share of 1-8 and 2-9 seasons, but as the original group of third graders reached middle school they improved dramatically, only losing one game in three years.

Next season that group will be seniors at the high school, with Emerson’s son Tucker serving as one of the team’s co-captains.

“Paul was the guy who would organize everything,” Emerson says. “He kept us in the league when things got difficult.”

Lavallee was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1942. His family moved to Cape Elizabeth when he was eight and stayed there for seven years. They relocated again, this time to Rhode Island, but Lavallee always considered Cape his favorite spot, and he and his wife Heather would settle in the town to raise their family.

An all-state athlete in football, wrestling and golf at Warwick High School, Lavallee received a football scholarship to the University of Connecticut. He played semi-pro football in Rhode Island and coached the game there, as well as in Maine.

Lavallee is survived by his wife, three daughters – Karen, Suzanne and Jessica – and five sons – Matthew, Jonathan, Nathaniel, Andrew and Christian.

“He was a good guy,” said Cape resident and friend Ron Treister. “He was always there for his kids.”

And that group can include anyone who puts on shoulder pads for Cape Elizabeth.

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