DEWITT -- The meeting of two state-ranked teams always will ratchet up a typical football night. Both communities, naturally, want to see which is better on the field.
But during the hour before the opening kickoff Oct. 14 of DeWitt’s game against Portland, those teams and their supporters together recognized a grander cause. The night was dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids U.S. soldiers (and their families) who have suffered service-related injuries and illnesses.
Rain washed out some planned attractions, but the evening certainly was memorable. Both teams wore camouflage jerseys and each sent its captains to the pre-game coin toss with an honorary captain representing the military. A number of other service personnel were involved – including a local color guard that presented a 30-foot flag for the national anthem.
It’s understandable if people’s visions of wars and our military are focused an ocean away. But connections hit close to home. DeWitt’s honorary captain, Lansing’s U.S. Army Spc. Jacob Shumway, recently returned from a deployment and has been in the service for two and a half years. He’s a 2003 Lansing Everett graduate, and his mother Susan Land is the principal at Lansing Eastern. His cousins Ethan and Collin Rennaker start for DeWitt, and he walked alongside them for the pregame flip. Shumway plans to attend Lansing Community College and study digital graphic design.
Both teams are considered contenders for their respective state titles next month; DeWitt is ranked No. 7 in Division 3, while Portland is No. 4 in Division 5. And they played like it – Portland prevailed 22-20 in overtime.
A great game, no question. But similarly significant was a preliminary figure of more than $11,000 raised for the WWP.
For more about the Wounded Warrior Project visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.