Under the Friday night lights, where progress is measured in yards and victories won in seconds, pride is earned each week in putting on the uniform and playing as a team.
Perhaps that's why it meant so much for Raymond Lara to put on his uniform for the first time Friday. Unlike his teammates, Raymond suffers from cerebral palsy. "He's just like all the other boys. That's what the jersey makes him. Just another part of the team," says Nikki Lara, team mom.
During a ceremony before Friday's game against Stockdale, the boys lined up and they called Raymond's parents from the stands for a special presentation. "Raymond Lara, we would like to give you a honorary membership to the Cenntennial Golden Hawks JV 2012 football team."
"It just signifies the image that they stand for, and we promote, which is 'as one', as a family. And that's what we've become with the coaches, and the families and the team," says Roman Lara.
"You can see the desire in his eyes, that he wants to do what all the other boys are doing, so that part is hard but we just try to make the best of it and to do as much as we can with him. When the football players, all the team, comes over and includes him and give him fist bumps and says hi, the joy in his eyes makes up for any sorrow that we feel," said Susan Lara.
For the final surprise, Raymond's brother Roman, who's a sophomore on the squad, stepped forward to present him a team jersey. "That's just amazing. For a long time, he has been watching me play sports and then he got involved with League of Dreams. Now I can go watch him and help him go play sports. Now he is a part of my football team and the Centennial Golden Hawks tradition. That's just really special," said Roman Lara IV, brother.
The JV team struggled Friday, and were down 12-0 at the half. But after a pep talk in the locker room centered on their new teammate, they battled back to claim victory. "He fights every single day of his life. If our boys could take an ounce of the fight he displays every single day with them on the field, they will walk off there champions every game."