Greenville youth football team takes to Ford Field

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 11:38 am on Monday, October 24, 2011

Greenville team members high-five Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh in the tunnel at halftime of Sunday’s game.

A group of Greenville youth football players played at Ford Field Sunday during halftime of the Detroit Lions/San Francisco 49ers football game

GREENVILLE - Playing at Ford Field is usually reserved for NFL players, select college games and the MHSAA football finals.
A group of Greenville 8- and 9-year-olds received a special invitation to play in a scrimmage game at the home of the Detroit Lions and add their names to the list of Ford Field patrons.

They did so at halftime during Sunday’s Lions game against the San Francisco 49ers. The invitation came courtesy of Greenville 8-year-old Travis Zdanowski, a member of the Detroit Lions Kids Club.

Kids Club members get a monthly newsletter from the Lions mascot, the chance to go to select games at a discount, autograph sessions and a chance to go on the field and form a tunnel as players come on to the field.

There is also a limited number of opportunities to play at halftime of a Lions non-divisional home game.

The scrimmage – against a team from Bedford – wasn’t tied to the Greenville Rocket Football program because in season scrimmages are not allowed. Players were selected from various teams in the age group.

“It was pretty amazing. I was quite surprised the kids were all business,” coach Bill Kohler said. “We scored four touchdowns in three minutes. I was pretty impressed.”

Each team had three minutes to run their offenses and play defense. There were no kickoffs and possessions began at the 40-yard line.

Teams were allowed to score as many times as possible in that time frame. Greenville’s defense held Bedford to just one score.

Zdanowski, who had an interception, said the game was probably the “funnest thing” he has done.

“It was really fun and I got an interception,” he said. “Going down into the tunnel was the best.”

The players got to high-five some players including all-pro lineman Ndamukong Suh.

“He was huge,” Zdanowski said.

Other player perks included having their jerseys signed by Matt Stafford and Drew Stanton along with another eight to 15 players. They also received a Lions football from the practice facility.

“All the dads are getting shadow boxes to hang the jerseys,” Kohler said. “It was a phenomenal. We weren’t on the field very long and it went fast.”

More than 180 Greenville residents made the trip to the game. Most were attending a Lions game for the first time.

Kohler enjoyed the stadium in his first trip to Ford Field.

“There isn’t a bad seat in the building,” he said. “I grew up going to the Pontiac Silverdome and there were some nose bleed seats there. Every seat was great. We were in the upper deck by one of the corners.”

Lakeland also played Hartland.

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