|Published:||Dec 11, 2012 10:49 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 11, 2012 10:52 PM EST|
IMMOKALEE, Fla - Friday, the Immokalee football team will head to Orlando to play in the state championship.
The last time the Indians went to state was in 2004, when they won it all. But, the road back to the top hasn't been easy.
The last time Immokalee went to state, the players on this team were in elementary school. They remember looking at that 2004 team, watching them parade through town, dreaming of doing the same thing and now their dreams are coming true.
"I don't have words for it. I just feel like it's a dream and I don't want to wake up right now," says senior tackle Mikey Campbell.
Campbell and the Immokalee Indians are going through one of their last practices before they head to play in the Citrus Bowl Friday afternoon.
"Ever since we were 8th graders we told ourselves we're going to be the best Immokalee football team that came out here and right now we have a chance to do that," says Senior Kerby Henry.
For these kids, state is a dream come true. "When we go into that huddle, we look over at that (2004 championship) sign and we just pray to god we'll get there and we got there," says senior Jeffrey Valcin.
The road back to the top hasn't been an easy one. Violations for having an over age player in 2006 put the team on probation for a year, but this team is more determined than ever to get another banner on the scoreboard.
Head coach Jarrod Ackley says, "our mission wasn't to make it to state, our mission was to win state and we're putting ourselves in the position to do that."
For many of these kids football represents more than just a game. It provides a means to stay on track.
"A lot of times in life it's a struggle in Immokalee and the football team and the football program provides a joy and a will for everyone to be happy about," says Ackley.
And despite the trouble early on this season, the Indians are set to make history in Immokalee.
"It will give me everything I've ever worked for," says Campbell. "It will just culminate the four years I've had here and just mean so much to me."
Thursday there will be a parade through town, past all the elementary schools. "These kids were in elementary school, holding the signs up that the same kids are going to be holding for them," says Ackley."You realize how things have come full circle for them all, when they were little they watched their heros go on to a state championship and now they're in the position to be the same kind of role models for the kids of Immokalee."
The team will play Tallahassee Godby Friday at 1:00 p.m. In Orlando.
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