PRAIRIE CITY — The Prairie City football team has put another trophy on their shelf after the Oregon School Activities Association named them the Les Schwab Tires Team of the Month for September.

Each month throughout the school year, Les Schwab and the OSAA recognize a varsity team and present them with a trophy and a $100 donation to the team’s program.

The team is selected based on performance, dedication in the classroom, and service to the community.

Panthers head football coach Nick Thompson, who was named this season’s High Desert League Coach of the Year, told the Eagle that this year’s Panther team is not a typical high school football team.

The members of this year’s football team, which finished the season with a 6-2 overall record and made a strong showing in league playoffs, will go down as some of the greatest players ever in the High Desert League, Thompson said, but what they did off the field in their community was just as significant.

“They’re not a common group of high school kids,” Thompson said. “We don’t have cliques within our team. They are a team; they’re family. They do everything together.”

From helping a local family unload a moving truck to refereeing junior high football games without being asked to, this year’s Panther football players stood out for their level of service to the community.

And OSAA noticed, Thompson said. Out of the nearly 100 1A schools in the state, Prairie City garnered the most votes for the September award.

Honoring veterans

After two suicide bombers and shooters killed 13 U.S. troops at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan in late August, Prairie City junior Eli Wright said the football team wanted to honor the servicemen and women who died by walking out onto the field with American flags before the national anthem.

Eli said as the tradition carried on throughout the season, he and his brother Tucker, a sophomore who also on the football team, decided they wanted to honor both of their uncles, police officers in Prineville and Bend, and friends who are first responders.

“They (veterans, police officers and first responders) do so much for us, and there’s nothing that we can really give back to them,” Eli said.

Sophomore Wes Voigt concurred.

“Without them doing what they do, there would be no football,” Voigt said.

While the pregame ceremonies went over very well with the community, Voigt noted that the team did not fly flags for any kind of recognition.

“Everybody should honor them (veterans, law enforcement, first responders),” Voigt said.

Voigt said that the tradition will continue should the coaches allow them to fly the flag before games next season.

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Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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