Providence Central Football Team Announced as Fight Like Dylan Award Recipient
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Posted by: Mattie Potter
By Bill Koch
PROVIDENCE --- It was the second time the email appeared in his inbox, and it just happened to come during a bye week.
Peter Rios was intrigued, and the man who serves in a dual role as Central High School football coach and athletic director had some rare free time. A quick look at the criteria as described by Russell Athletic had Rios thinking that his Knights do indeed ‘Fight Like Dylan.’
A national panel of judges – one including former NFL coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy – agreed. Central’s entry was chosen from hundreds of submissions coast to coast as the contest winner, with the official announcement coming Monday morning.
The award – founded in 2011 – consists of a $50,000 grant for a high school athletic program to help overcome funding shortfalls. Central’s football team stood out due to its perseverance, rallying after the shooting death of a former player in February 2014 and fighting through several other off-field challenges to reach the R.I. Interscholastic League postseason for the first in five years.
“It was overwhelming,” Central principal Julia Carlson said. “They could not have awarded this to a better group of kids on the face of the Earth.”
The award is named in memory of Dylan Rebeor, a Tennessee high school football player who succumbed to colon cancer in 2011. One of his final wishes was for his team to receive new uniforms, one that can now be granted to several teams in Central’s program. The Knights join Edmondson County, Ky. (2011), Williamsport, Md. (2012), Buena Vista, Co. (2013) and Shoreham Wading-River, N.Y. (2014) among previous winners and will be honored at Tuesday’s Russell Athletic Bowl when No. 10 North Carolina squares off with No. 17 Baylor in Orlando, Fla.
“Our family's hearts were immediately touched when we read Central's story,” said Heather Rebeor, Dylan’s mother, in a statement. “These young men show the same team spirit that Dylan did and I'm so glad they are getting the support through the ‘Fight Like Dylan Award.’”
Central’s difficulties in recent times have been well documented. Three-year starter George Holland II was shot to death shortly after the close of the 2013 season, dead at 17 in another of a seemingly endless string of violent acts that cloud the personal lives of some members of the Knights roster. It was Holland who comforted Rios when his father passed away at his New York home, perspective that came from painful experience – Holland’s father was stabbed to death by his mother in a 2009 domestic incident.
“He put his arms around me and said, ‘Coach, I know what you’re going through. God will give you the strength to get through this,’” Rios said. “We’ve been through a lot at Central High School. I guess God has put me in the right place at the right time to bring these kids together.”
Central’s submission received finishing touches from Rios’s wife, Barbara, and Providence executive director of schools Dr. Robin Muksian-Schutt. Its message was powerful enough to land Rios and Central’s captains in Florida for four days – the Knights departed on Sunday and will return Wednesday afternoon, watching from the sidelines when the Tar Heels and Bears square off.
“I truly believe when you hear Central High School now you think of our outstanding students, of our outstanding faculty,” Carlson said. “That’s a change I couldn’t be prouder of.”
“Sometimes you don’t know who to turn to, what to say,” Rios said. “As a coach I’m happy that I’m there to direct them and give the support they need at that time.”Click Here to read the full article on the Providence Journal.