ST. JOHN | It's something any high school football player in Indiana would love to do. To run out onto the football field in front of a standing-room-only crowd with a conference title on the line is what dreams are made of.
Big dreams, of course. Where a lifetime of memories take place in about 20 seconds.
So tonight at the Burial Grounds it will be a thrill for Greyson Fieldhouse and Jared Turngren as their beloved Lake Central Indians take on Merrillville's Pirates in the Duneland Athletic Conference's "Championship Game."
But this dream is different for the 12-year-old Fieldhouse and 14-year-old Turngren. Really, it's bigger than prep football.
"Jared is a huge inspiration to me," said L.C. senior wide receiver Jake Turngren, Jared's older brother. "I know how much he loves football. And I know he can't play. So I play for him on every snap."
The two youngsters will lead the Indians out onto the field tonight wearing red T-shirts, which will help support the American Heart Association.
Two years ago L.C.'s Red Out raised almost $10,000. That number could be higher with a game of this magnitude as a backdrop.
Greyson Fieldhouse's brother, Chase, played for Lake Central two years ago. Both Greyson and Jared have the same congenital heart defect. The two lads were born with only half a heart, known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
The lads with strong ties to L.C. football are excited about their third straight year of leading the Indians out on the field.
"I like it a lot," Greyson said. "I think it's really cool."
"It's crazy," Jared added. "I guess it's cool."
The past two seasons on Red Out night Indians coach Brett St. Germain had his team put a red stripe on their helmets and the team played in red socks once.
The Indians' have been selling the red T-shirts during lunch.
"When I got here, I wanted to make sure as a football program that we did something positive for our community beyond playing on Friday nights," St. Germain said. "And when we realized we had two players in our program that had family members dealing with this, it hit home.
"I'm excited about having Greyson and Jared lead our team out on the field again. We wanted to create an opportunity that would be exciting for them, give them something they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
Lisa Fieldhouse, Jared's mother, and Jennifer Rzab, Jared's mother, said that 30 years ago both of their sons would have surely died from this condition. Events like this have raised the funds for research that have helped these two local boys and countless others around our country.
Tonight should be an emotional and entertaining game between two very good teams. I expect the crowd to be huge. I hope all those attending will take $10 out of their pockets and buy a T-shirt for the boys.
There some things more important than who wins a high school football game. This is one of them.