Scene from One More Game II in 2008

One More Game III Ready to go

One More Game III Ready to Go
The date and the coaches have been finalized for One More Game III, a day-long fantasy football experience for former players of all ages. On Saturday, October 10, Williamson Field at Pontiac High School will be the site once again for this third edition of the event, pitting defending coach Eric Sweetwood, Social Studies Chairman at Pontiac High School against Managing Editor Erich Murphy of the Pontiac Daily Leader.
The idea behind this happening began several years ago with a conversation Jeff Schade, owner of Champion Fitness Physical Therapy, had with Mick Peterson, then the long-time football coach at Pontiac. Schade, who never played football in high school, had always wondered what it would be like to be a part of an organized team with practices and games, and he felt there were others like him. "We hear all the time about fantasy baseball camps, where guys from all over the country who used to play or had even NEVER played would come to places like Phoenix or Florida and get a chance to enjoy that experience. I thought we could do the same with football, just at a smaller level," he explained.
Peterson, who has recently retired from coaching, added, "I've always had lots of players who wore the uniform wish they could get out there just 'one more time,' get that 'one more play,' that 'one last hit' in. That's what this game does to a person. We don't really want to let go. This just seemed like a crazy enough idea that it just might work."
And work it has. The first two years have drawn over 80 players, with an excellent mixture of "veterans" and "rookies," from as far north as the Chicago suburbs to as far south as Springfield, as far west as Geneseo to as far east as Kankakee. "In fact," Peterson noted, "some of our better performers in the first two games have been by guys who had never played before...and now wish they had...or could have." The age range has been remarkable, as well, with the youngest being a year or two removed from high school all the way up to men in their fifties and sixties.
The format for the day makes it very intriguing for incoming players. Registration begins early in the morning, with equipment being issued for the day. Practice soon follows with fundamentals being stressed at each position, giving the players the freedom to choose the area they wish to focus on. "This is probably the toughest part of the day, not from the physical side of things, but from the mental side," Peterson explained, "especially for those guys who never have played. They sometimes see only the glory positions on TV, but they have no idea of what to expect when they get out there and try to learn themselves. They are all so eager to swallow as much as they can as fast as they can, though, so, for what they may not have in experience, they make up for it in enthusiasm."
Schade, who will be playing for the third time this year, noted that those guys who have played before have taken the others "under their wings. That's what I think has been so neat...these other guys who are basically reliving old times, helping us new guys whenever they can. They've been awesome," Schade noted.
After the morning workout, the players break for lunch, at which time Schade and Peterson arrange for a "motivational speaker" to come in and share ideas with the players. "I felt it was important that we try to give the players as much as we can," Schade said. "Football is a game that can be tied to oh so many things we experience in life, and we've been lucky in that our speaker in the first two years has been able to bring that message."
In the afternoon, the players are divided into teams and go through a team workout, reviewing their offenses and defenses they will be using in the game and getting players into positions they can be comfortable with. Trying to get in as many repetitions as possible has always been the challenge here, according to Peterson. "This is the first time our celebrity coaches take completely over, and it's fun watching them getting their squads organized. To them, the pace has always seemed hectic and probably chaotic, but the games we have played have been extremely competitive," Peterson said.
The game is played in mid-afternoon with special rules designed for safety, no kickoffs or punts, a running clock until the last five minutes of each half, and quick whistles by the officials to avoid any unnecessary pileups. Year one ended in a 14-8 contest with Mark Myre of WJEZ Radio besting Don Daluga, former football coach and athletic director at Pontiac High School, while last year Sweetwood's team came from behind in the second half to edge Myre's squad 16-12. This year Sweetwood will be looking to be the first coach to win back-to-back games.
Following the game, a social is held for the players, officials, the volunteer workers and all their families. Cost for participation is $50, which includes helmet and shoulder pads, instruction/workouts, lunch, and Official "One More Game III" game jersey. All proceeds from this game go to the "Fitness 4 Life Foundation," sponsored by Champion Fitness Physical Therapy, which benefits area organizations in promoting fitness and love of sports in area youth.
For registration information, go to the "News and Events" page of www.champfit.com or call Julie Renken or Jeff Schade at 877-348-8500.

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