Niles football huddles together to support captain who lost his - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Niles football huddles together to support captain who lost his father

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Sean Craig is no doubt one of the leaders and key players for the Niles Vikings football team. He's a senior and one of the toughest kids in Southwest Michigan.

Some would say he's "a chip off the old block". He's just like his dad. For Craig, there could be no greater compliment. His father, James Craig, passed away earlier this week. Faced with the decision to play or stay at home, he laced up his spikes, put on his helmet and played his heart out Thursday night for his dad.

"It really helps remember the good times that I had with him. Football between my family, my brother my dad, it's just something we've shared ever since I could remember," Sean Craig said.

Craig's dad was more than just a guy who cheered from the stands. He coached most of the Niles players in either Rocket or Jr. Football. When these kids and coaches found out about his passing. It was devastating.

"To me when you're establishing relationships with kids on the team they become like your kids. Even though I'm not his father by any means, he had an amazing father, and has an amazing father,” Niles Head Coach Antwon Jones said. “It's still like he's your kid and you see him hurting so bad and you just do whatever you can to try to help him feel better."

Craig kept practicing this week with a heavy heart. That's what his dad would've wanted. "What's happened happened. There's nothing we can do about it. And it's just heart warming all the people, all these amazing people that really appreciate and help us out," Craig said.

"What am I going to do to show this kid that he's loved and that he has support from his family and that he has support from his other family, which is his football family," Jones said.

The Vikings won at Loy Norrix Thursday, but it was a tribute in the game's final plays that made this story all about family. Sean and his brother, Dustin, were called out to the field. Both teams wrapped their held their helmets up to the sky as the brothers embraced each other. .

"It was just really special not just to have our whole community there in like loving support, but the whole Loy Norrix team too. It was just really special,” Craig said. “It makes it less hard to deal with things when you have such amazing people to help support."

"Sean has given so much to this program, so much to my family, that I wanted him to know how we were hurting for him," Jones said.

Craig says he knows his dad won;t be missing any games. "Like Jones says, it's just a selfish part of us that we want him here with us, but we know he's going to be watching, up there, in heaven," Craig said.

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