It’s not every day that you witness something special with a group of 10- and 11-year-old boys. But Moab Devils Head Coach Sam Crane was overwhelmed by the support that his team showed for a player who is mourning the death of his father.
The Moab Devils youth football team for 5th and 6th grades prepared for a season ending tournament Oct. 30 through Nov. 1.
During the final week of preparation leading up to the tournament, some rough things happened to their teammates. First, one of them broke his collarbone just six days before the tournament. Then, three days before the tournament, tragedy struck, when the father of offense/ defense guard Myron Litsue was unexpectedly killed in a car accident.
Myron was very upset and his teammates were more concerned for Myron’s well being than they were for the tournament, Crane said.
“It was amazing to see the love this team had for a teammate that was mourning,” he said.
That night, the team decided to focus on Myron rather than practice. They got together early and made a huge poster card for Myron. Then, they had Myron escorted onto the field while his teammates shouted his name. The whole team hugged and cried with Myron. He was comforted and supported by his team. The parents of the team also took up a collection and gave Myron’s mother some monetary support.
“It was a special experience to be a part of,” Crane said. “Normally, when you see a football team huddled together, they are shouting and cheering. But this time they were holding a friend and weeping with him while they told him they cared.”
Because of the funeral, Myron was not able to attend the tournament. The team was saddened, but the Devils were determined to move forward, he said.
The tournament was a round robin format consisting of four teams from the Four Corners area in the 10- and 11-year-old division. In order to be crowned champions, the Devils would need to win two games.
The first game took place on Saturday night against the Gallup, New Mexico, Patriots.
“We were amazed with the size of this team,” Crane said. “They had three players over 150 pounds and that is huge for an 11-year-old. Most of the time, it would take four to five of our guys just to tackle one of these large boys. It truly looked like David versus Goliath.”
The game was a barn burner, but in the end the Devils came out victorious, with a score of 20-18. “Halfway through the game when the going got tough, I heard some of the team mates telling each other, ‘do it for Myron,’” Crane said. “I was so happy that they cared enough for their team mate that they would think of them in a time like this.”
The final game was between Moab Devils and Grants, New Mexico Pirates.
“Once again, we were up against a team much larger than us,” Crane said. “They had one player that was 5-feet 10-inches and 180 pounds. He was daunting.”
The Devils scored quickly, but the Pirates answered right back, making the score 7-6 in the Pirates favor after the first quarter. The Pirates had a great offense and seemed to be able to move the ball easily, Crane said, but then something happened that stopped them in their tracks.
“After the first quarter, the team huddled up and one of the teammates said, ‘Hey guys, we can do this. Let’s do it for Myron,’” Crane said. “Then the other teammates got on board and started telling everybody, ‘Yeah, let’s do it for Myron.’”
From that point forward, the Devils stopped the Pirates in their tracks. The Pirates did not score anymore and the Devils put two more touchdowns on the board, making the final score 20-7. In the last huddle of the game the whole team was saying to each other: “do it for Myron!” It was a special experience to be a part of, Crane said.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Champion Roy Gerela and Four Corners Football Tournament President Sammy Chioda presented the Moab Devils with the championship trophy.
“Roy Gerela was quite the sport,” Crane said. “He even let our team members wear his Super Bowl ring.”
Crane said he spoke with Myron’s mother right after the game and she said, “It means the world to Myron that they won the championship for him. Myron is so excited.” She also thanked the Devils for all of their hard work.
Super Bowl champion presents team with trophy
“It was a special experience to be a part of … Normally, when you see a football team huddled together, they are shouting and cheering. But this time they were holding a friend and weeping with him while they told him they cared.”