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Football: Burbank Bell-Jeff team shows the definition of courage

October 14, 2013|By Eric Sondheimer

Down to 11 players after two injuries, Burbank Bell-Jeff players could have quit during their football game against St. Monica. Instead, they displayed the kind of determination that inspired the father of a St. Monica player to write in an email, "On Saturday night, I witnessed one of the finest displays of human character I have ever seen in my life."

The team had to forfeit four earlier games because of lack of enough players, but first-year Coach Lance Fauria continues to field a team with players who want to play. At least three times on Saturday, the Guards had to play with just 10 players on the field because an injury forced a player to sit out one play.

"They did the best they could," Fauria said. "We're outmanned right now."

St. Monica won, 36-0, but Bell-Jeff players let everyone know they would not quit.

David Frick, the St. Monica parent, wrote, "Eleven young men on the Bell-Jeff varsity football team, probably ages 15 to 17, did a thing many older and ostensibly more mature people would have shirked from.  I used to like the saying 'character is what you do when no one is looking.' Well, a lot of people were looking on this particular evening, but there’s no doubt these football players gave one of the finest displays of character we can ever hope to witness."

Fauria, whose nephew, Joseph, is the tight end for the Detroit Lions, said he will continue to seek more players from the school to play football. The team has three scheduled games remaining and has a bye this week.

"It was unbelievable," Fauria said of his players' courage. "It's hard for us as coaches to watch it. It's even harder for the kids to endure it. It's showing the school we're not giving up and doing everything we can to have a football team."

Frick wrote in his email, "Any of the players who were hurt could have simply said they were not well enough to continue and the game would have been over. But you could see as they sat out the one required play they were not only willing but eager to go back in. They didn’t want to let down their teammates, their parents, their coach, or their school. They were fatigued and had to have been near exhaustion and they were risking injury on every play. They never slacked, there was no let up in their play.

"The scoreboard said they lost the football game. But they played with so much heart and courage it makes the heart soar. This was a victory. If I ever need to accomplish a difficult task in the face of adversity I would want any one of these 11 fine young men by my side."

 

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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