published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Chattanooga-area prep football programs challenged to help veterans

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Tim James wants to issue a challenge to every Chattanooga-area prep football program.

The Heritage High School head coach has started what he hopes will be an annual fundraising program to assist wounded returning soldiers in their transition back to civilian life. The Halftime for Heroes Challenge begins at Heritage Aug. 26, starting with the U.S. Army Silver Wings out of Fort Benning, Ga., delivering the game ball with a parachute jump and continuing at halftime when fans are asked to give to the project.

"We would like to challenge other schools to see who can out-do the others," said James, who already has nine prep programs signed up to pass a bucket at the halftime of their games. "It's a great cause. These guys have laid their lives on the line and this is the least we can do for them."

James, who will have 16 members of the Warrior Transition Battalion act as Heritage team captains on opening night, will collect the money at the end of the season and send it to the national Wounded Warrior Fund, which purchases team packs costing $150 that include Under Armour gear for transitioning wounded soldiers.

"It's a phenomenal philanthropy," James said. "What they do is, when these guys are wounded they've been in a hospital gown for however long, and they give them some Under Armour shorts and t-shirts so they can start to feel normal again. They have rehabilitation to help them transition back into the civilian world."

Roberts takes Trojans

Offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Josh Roberts will be in charge on the Soddy-Daisy sidelines when the Trojans play at Baylor tonight.

Roberts is filling in for head coach Kevin Orr, who received a one-game suspension from Soddy-Daisy principal John Maynard for the Trojans' part in a brief fracas during a 7-on-7 scrimmage day at Signal Mountain.

"I'm responsible for the [football] program. We had some kids leave the sidelines and it's my responsibility. Mr. Maynard's my boss and I'm going to back him all the way," Orr said.

The coach will be in his office at the school from the time the team leaves until it returns.

"I'm not allowed to be at the stadium. It's tough. For the first time in 14 years of coaching high school ball I won't be at the field with the team," he said. "It's a hard thing to deal with but things happen in life. I'm trying to teach kids that things don't always go the way you want but you have to persevere."

'Being the same'

When Polk County steps on the field to challenge Bradley Central, not one of the Wildcats will be wearing a jersey with a single-digit number.

"We're big on everybody being the same. No individuals. I've done it since I became head coach," Polk coach Derrick Davis said. "I'm sure there are some schools that just can't do or even thought about. It's like Bradley. I'm sure they'll have close to 100 kids dressed out and they have to go to single digits and numbers in the nineties.

"There have been years when we have pushed 75 or so but we're down numbers-wise this year, probably around 60, so it's not a problem for us. It has been a tradition here, just a small way of cutting down on individuality and promoting the team concept."

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