Gunner Moore loves playing football, a passion that recently took him all the way to a national All-American bowl game.
The 9-year-old from Soddy Daisy was invited to participate in the 12th annual Offense-Defense Bowl Week in December, after attending an O-D football camp last summer.
Gunner was one of about 100 boys in his age range chosen from thousands of players who participated in O-D summer camps, and the only youth from Chattanooga.
"It felt cool to be picked out of a couple hundred people," he said.
Gunner is an offensive lineman and defensive end for Soddy Daisy Kids Club. He has been playing football for three years.
"We do football all year long," said Zack Moore, Gunner's father.
The Offense-Defense Bowl Week is a long week of training, playing and recognizing the best football players in the country. Past bowl weeks have featured current NFL pros such as Heisman Trophy winners Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton as well as other well-known players including Joe Haden, Dez Bryant and Eli Manning.
At the December bowl week, held in New Orleans, Gunner played three games on a team of 28 other kids from around the country. The week was lots of fun, but exhausting, he said. Some days, he had a three-hour practice in the morning, a game in the afternoon, and then practice again after the game.
"I about passed out," said Gunner.
In between the intense training there was time to take in some New Orleans sights. Gunner and his dad watched two New Orleans Pelicans games, saw the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and, of course, walked down Bourbon Street.
The Moores also had the opportunity to meet some big talent, including several members of the "Elite 88," O-D's roster of the highest-ranking high school players. Gunner had his picture taken with Jeremy Banks, a running back from Cordova, Tenn., who signed with the University of Tennessee.
His favorite moment, however, was meeting Albert Haynesworth, former defensive tackle for UT and the Tennessee Titans.
Gunner sees no end in sight for his football career. He already has his sights set on the next season and said he would love to go on to play in high school and college. He will be attending an O-D weekend conditioning camp in Birmingham this March.
"We're right back at it and ready to start camps again," Zack Moore said.
Zack Moore is such a fan of O-D's programs that he said he is working with them to establish a weekend camp locally.
"I want them to shake hands with the talent we have in here. Not many people here are aware of it," he said.
Offense-Defense Sports has been running full-contact football instructional camps for 48 years and currently operates approximately 80 camp locations nationwide all year long. For more information about the programs, visit O-D.com.