If you thought high school football was over for the week, think again.
Instead of laying out big hits, the Moline Maroons were making dreams come true for seven area families on Saturday afternoon at Browning Field.
“I think that’s the key for the kids to realize how much they’re giving back,” Moline head football coach Matt Woods said.
Giving back was what Saturday was all about for the Moline football team in their annual Challenger Game. The Maroons teamed up with the Black Hawk Area Education Center (BHAEC) to give high school kids with disabilities a chance to play football.
“They get to feel the excitement of running in a touchdown, kicking a field goal, being a great athlete and that’s an experience not everybody gets to have so letting our kids come out here and really experience that and feel what that feels like is special for everybody,” David Brown, Vocational Director for the Black Hawk Area Education Center, said.
The fun of the game doesn’t stop with the kids from Black Hawk. The Maroons enjoy it just as much.
“The Challenger Game is always easy to wake up and come to this one because I know I’m going to put a smile on some kids face and they’re going to remember this all year, maybe all their life,” Moline senior Abe Driscal said. “If I can help, that’s a good feeling.”
“It was fun,” Challenger Game player Austin Chapman said. “I had a great time because I like running the plays and all that and I like throwing the passes and doing touchdowns and all that.”
This season hasn’t gone as planned for Moline. They’ve only won one game, but the Challenger Game puts the sport in perspective.
“Football is a game of life,” Woods said. “You’re going to have setbacks in life and just got to keep at it. Keep working.”
“At the end of the day, we’re lucky to be able to play out here on Friday nights and have the abilities we have so even though we’re having not our season, we’re real, real lucky,” Driscal said.
And even though there were no pads, no helmets, and no score, it was a real game to the players from BHAEC.
“They are real football players when they come out here and have real excitement and real energy and real adrenaline going through their blood,” Brown said. “So it’s a really cool experience for them.”
All seven students come from both BHAEC and Moline High School.