The St. Bede Bruins are playing for a purpose this season, showing their support for the family of former team captain, Evan Knoblauch, who passed away this summer from cancer, by wearing his initials and uniform number on the right side of their helmets.
Princeton’s Ronde Worrels gained a new inspiration last week, carrying a note on his wrist in memory of longtime neighbor and friend, Kevin Marsh, 58, who passed away Sept. 7.
Both came about as football gave way to life.
St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said “EK 63” means everything to everyone at St. Bede.
“In football, Evan played undersized and had a ton of success because he never quit,” he said. “Our kids are taking the same attitude and knew we were going to be outmanned in some games this year, like Evan was nearly all the time. We have adopted his attitude and have fought hard against what we believe are three playoff teams and want to continue to keep fighting and get better each week like Evan did his whole life.”
Marsh spent hours playing catch with the young Worrels growing up in their neighborhood on Franklin Street in Princeton. Worrels dedicated Friday’s game to Marsh, inspired to score four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 49-7 win over St. Bede in his memory.
“There’s those few people in your life you can go back to the beginning, these are the people that shaped my life and made me the person I am and made me love the game,” Worrels said. “You know when you have somebody like that not in your life anymore, you just play with that and know they’re above watching you.”
• Reunion game: Friday’s game with Newman will carry a little extra emotion for first-year Bureau Valley head coach Mat Pistole. He was an assistant for Newman the past two seasons before returning home to his alma mater.
“I think the world of Newman. Those coaches, and more than anything those kids,” Pistole said. “I spent a great deal of time with those boys, and I’m very proud of how hard and well they have played to start the season.
“Their coaching staff is filled with tremendous men that are exactly who you want to have around your kids. The way they accepted me as family and even after I have left continue to do so is something that I’ll never forget, and I’m extremely grateful for my time and relationships that I developed at Newman.”
Pistole is digging in for the long haul at Bureau Valley.
“I told our kids Friday after the game that I wouldn’t trade any of them for anybody else, how much they mean to me, and I’m so proud to be their coach. I truly mean that,” he said. “I’m going to continue to fight for them, and this group is still going to be the foundation for what our program is going to be built on in the future.”
• Quick counts: Princeton junior running back Ronde Worrels was the top vote-getter for running backs and one of the top overall in this week’s Friday Night Drive Player of the Week honors. Players are nominated by Shaw Media staff each week with online voting to determine the Player of the Week.
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