WHSV Sports Presents: Broadway Salutes

Published: Oct. 12, 2016 at 10:41 PM EDT
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Between the goal lines, football is a game of inches, dedication, hard work. But all of that pales in comparison to those who have given everything to serve this country.

That's a lesson Broadway football head coach Brad Lutz set out to teach his players seven years ago --a lesson inspired by tragedy, tragedy that's inspired tradition.

“Coaches talk a lot about sacrifice,” he said. “I don't want our kids to have any kind of misunderstanding when they leave us about what the word sacrifice means. It's not weight room, it's not football, it's not practice. It's the sacrifice that's given by our military every day.”

September 7, 2004: It's a day that weighs heavily on the heart of coach Lutz. It's a day his close friend Clarence Adams died.

“My high school football coach who I was coaching for at the time called me over, and that wasn't unusual. I went over and he told me Clarence's mother had come by and informed him of it. And that was hard,” said Lutz. “It still is."

Lutz's former teammate at Varina High School was killed by an IED during operation Iraqi Freedom.

To keep his memory alive, in 2009 when Lutz became head coach at Broadway, he began a tradition that dedicated each game to a fallen solider.

One year into the tribute, the team began honoring one of their own.

"I always thought Bucky was out of harm's way,” said his mom, Margaret. “I guess I was naive in that way; I thought he was safe.... It's the worst nightmare a parent can go through.”

On June 12, 2010, a roadside bomb killed Brian "Bucky" Anderson. He was a 2004 Broadway graduate, an all-district football player and wrestling state champ.

Each season, Bucky and Clarence are honored with a game, and this summer, Coach Lutz took the seniors to Arlington National Cemetery where the players picked the others.

“There are over 400,000 soldiers laid there to rest,” added Lutz. “We went to section 60, which is mostly soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were even families up there visiting family members themselves.”

One of those families was that of army Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, who was the soldier Davis Peltonen selected. Davis met his brother.

“He didn't talk much about his brother,” the senior receiver said. “I told him what we were doing... But he just told me to enjoy high school, told me it was the best time of his life and to take every advantage... It'll be something I'll never forget.

"I know when I picked my soldier, he had a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and he had two daughters. I thought that was sad: thinking about all the other soldiers who we there and had family members and died. They gave it all for their country,” said senior quarterback Jesse Layne.

At the end of the season a soldier tribute game pays one final salute to soldiers fallen, to family, to friends, to a brother killed years ago on June 12.

“I think people appreciate we're investing a lot more in these kids than just teaching them football,” said Lutz. “They appreciate that our coaching staff is taking it a step further and teaching these kids more about life.

"To be there on that Friday night and you see the motorcycles come out, and you see the bit American flag hanging there. It's a tear-jerker,” Anderson added. “I still cry at every military tribute game. I cry."

“You're not promised anything in sports,” added Lutz. “There are going to be years you win a lot of football games and there are going to be years you don't have a lot of success. But our kids leave here and they understand truly what our military is about. They understand what's truly going on in the world. They understand life is precious and sometimes short and they understand that one act, one thing like a tribute at a football game on Friday night can touch so many people."