PREP FOOTBALL

West Side football gets grant at Saturday's Colts' game

2013-08-26T17:15:00Z 2013-09-12T22:44:12Z West Side football gets grant at Saturday's Colts' gameSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com

Ramone Atkins was 23-of-28 for 257 yards and five touchdowns on Friday night in Hobart. It was pretty exciting stuff, for sure.

Hard to believe, though, the West Side junior quarterback was inside Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night standing on the turf.

"It was the largest crowd I've ever been in," said Atkins, watching his first NFL game in person. "The lights were shining down on the field. It felt real good."

The Colts selected Atkins to be on the field to accept a check for $10,000 from the Colts owner's Jim Irsay Equipment Grant along with USA Football. West Side was one of eight high school and youth programs to receive the help.

“We are proud of our continued partnership with our Indianapolis neighbor USA Football to celebrate the beginning of another season for young players and their families throughout Colts country,” Irsay said in a release.

“Through USA Football Month, the Colts are proud to show our continued dedication to youth and high school football, recognizing its important role in our communities and we’re proud to help further strengthen deserving football programs.”

West Side had lost at least 20 helmets from wear and tear through the years so coach Jason Johnson applied for the grant. He did not tell his Cougars it was received until they got back home after the Hobart game Friday.

Eighteen Cougars wore their blue uniforms to the game and took part in the grant ceremony along with watching the Colts beat Cleveland 27-6.

"None of our kids have ever been to Lucas Oil before," Johnson said. "Ramone was selected because he was the leading returning passer in Indiana. This really helped our program and the kids had a great time.

"After we went to the game we went to get something to eat downtown. This is something our kids don't get to do too often.'

Atkins, also highly recruited, had a lot of big dreams after seeing the game and taking in the experience.

"I'm looking forward to being back there for the state championship game," Atkins said. "It was exciting to see how an NFL game is played. The execution was great. It was interesting to watch. I would like to be there some day as a player.

"I would like to see the money go toward a new turf field at our school. Or maybe a new scoreboard and some new equipment."

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