Oct. 20, the Moose Chiefs and the VFW Bengals played two close, well-played youth football games at Heidelberg University. Each team won a game. From the bleachers, you could see the great runs, the amazing passes, the hard hits and defensive stands. But let me tell you what you may not have noticed.
I watched as after every play, players from both teams helped each other to their feet. I saw that every time a player stayed down, coaches from both teams went out to check on him, while players from both teams took a knee until that injured player walked off the field. I heard coaches and players from both teams marvel at the amazing plays from not only their own team, but the other team as well. I saw younger players step up and make plays when their teams needed them. I saw a captain refuse to be denied a touchdown, and I saw a rookie play three different positions. I saw both teams come together at the end of the night to say "thanks" and wish the young man who left the game early with an injury a speedy recovery. Before and after the games, I took part in a "tailgate" event for both teams in a nearby parking lot. I saw pictures being taken, I saw kids playing catch and I saw players hugging their parents.
And in the middle of all of that, I saw the reason we play this game. After fumbling a handoff that ended a go-ahead drive, our quarterback jogged over to me. I started to tell him not to worry about it, when he cut me off. "Coach," he said, "I am having so much fun out there. Can we do this again next year?"
I saw a lot of great moments that night. Quite simply, I saw a lot of young boys become young men.