The football team from Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy for Young Men bound onto the field today with something to prove for the homecoming game.
They wanted to show their famous spectators — Detroit Lions stars Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best — that they were worth the time and attention.
Suh’s family foundation and other donors outfitted the team this week with new equipment after thieves cleaned out the field house last weekend. The team hit the field today dressed helmet-to-toe in donated, mostly new, top-of-the-line gear.
The 4-1 team wanted to prove they could keep playing — and winning, that their season was worth saving. By half-time, the 43 to 0 score provided volumes of evidence. Douglass (5-1) beat Denby (0-6), with a final score of 50 to 0.
Running back Demetrius Stinson, who scored two touchdowns and kicked two field goals, said the team came onto the field buoyed by the donations.“People care, and they supported us,” he said. “We had to prove we could get through adversity.”
Before the game, the players heartily shook hands with Suh and Best as the Lions passed out new cleats in the parking lot before the game. The Lions players also addressed the Denby team before the Douglass players arrived.
“I saw a situation that I could obviously help out in as well as Jahvid,” Suh said. “And that’s why we teamed up and… were able to give back things that these players deserve.”
Douglass’ homecoming game and season were jeopardized when coaches discovered on Monday that thieves had broken into the field house and slunk away with all the equipment, including helmets, pads and some shoes.
When news of the break-in spread, donations and calls poured in starting Tuesday morning. Today, the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation delivered gloves and Nike cleats to the game. Quicken Loans contacted its sister company, Xenith, which delivered high-tech anti-concussion helmets from Massachusetts.
And Powerade provided a huge blow-up archway for the players to make an entrance. Quicken Loans also presented a check for $5,000 to help repair and secure the field house.
“They were so sweet,” Wendy Kemp, spokeswoman for Quicken Loans said of the players. “And when you see the smiles on their faces, it makes all the roughness go away.”
When the mortgage company presented an oversize check to the team at half-time, the skeleton crew of joyful fans let out a chant, “1-2-3 – Thank you Quicken Loans.”
Though it felt like winter, with icy intervals of rain, a few dozen supporters boiled over with praise and gratitude.
“This is great, people did the right thing and the parents and the kids appreciate it,” said Michael Steward, whose son, Marquis, plays for Douglass.
Principal Sean Vann said the theft was an emotional loss that dispirited some of the children. But the outpouring of support was a game-changer, he said.
“The team was uplifted by the power of the community,” he said.