For years now, KWWL's Friday night Heroes has showcased the players on the football field. But, tonight, you're going to some unsung heroes of Friday Night Heroes...These guys do it for the love of the game, and love of the gang.
When the Wahawks of Waterloo West take the field for a home game at Memorial stadium, so do the dedicated team members of the West High football chain gang.
“We're actually an extension of the officials,” says West High chain gang, Captain, Bruce Jensen.
As sports fans know, the chain gang is critical; keeping track of the down, marking the correct yard line every play, and, moving the 10-yard sticks & chain each time there's a new first down on the field.
Jensen says, “It can be pretty dangerous out there. When things come our way, there's not a lot of time to get out of the way.”
While most chain gangs have four people, West uses 5, including 2-year veteran, Sam Matlock.
Sam says it's a great way to spend Friday nights. "I've been doing this with the guys for about two years now. I'm a graduate of West high. I believe if you get out there and enjoy it, that's why i do it, and i just enjoy being around football."
On a cold and windy Friday night, Bruce's brother, Randy Jensen, filled in for regular team member, former West and Loras College running back, Javon Amiable, as Javon couldn't make the game covered for this story. But, Javon is quite a mentor for the two new guys on the team this year.
Those two new members are Blake Morris and Johnny Schmedeke.
Blake and Johnny are great addition, Bruce says. But, “Both of our young guys, we call them our rookies, have limits to what they can do.” Both John and Blake operate at very high intellectual levels.
But, John Schmedeke has dealt with austistic challenges. He played football & soccer at West and has graduated from Hawkeye in veterinary medicine...
Blake deals with celebral palsy, which impacts his speech. He ran cross country four years for Cedar Falls High School, and was CF Athlete of the Year his senior year. Blake graduates from UNI in computer science in the spring
Quite an honor for the West chain gang last season, as they team was selected as the chain gang for the Class 4A championship game in the UNI Dome
Captain, Bruce Jensen, says, “It's the best seat in the house, and how better to give back to the school which has given so much to our families.”