Dylan Rebeor with his teammates on the Columbia, Tennessee high school football team (FightLikeDylan.org)

It was somewhat ironic that at about the same time Warren Hills senior Evan Murray died tragically while playing football I received a press release announcing Russell Athletics’ fifth annual “Fight Like Dylan Award.”  That’s because the award honors high school teams that have shown determination, inspiration and perseverance through sports and clearly Warren Hills will need a big dose of that to get through this season.

The award is named after Dylan Rebeor who was diagnosed with colon cancer in the spring of 2010 while his Columbia, Tennessee team was about to start spring practice.  Despite fighting the illness and not be able to play he still attended games and remained an important part of the football program.

Through the “Make A Wish Foundation” he made a last wish, not for himself but for his teammates and it was that they receive new uniforms for the following season which they did.  Dylan died at the age of 16 on the day his team won a state championship, eight months after he was diagnosed.  His inspiring story led Russell Athletic to join forces with the Rebeor family and create the “Fight Like Dylan Award” which comes with a $50,000 grant in athletic apparel and sports equipment to a school.

Last year’s winner was Shoreham-Wading River High School from Long Island, New York who dedicated their season to a 16-year old teammate who died after colliding with another player in a game on October 1st.  The team went on to finish a perfect 10-0 and win the Long Island championship.  Previous winners of the award were Buena Vista High School (Colorado), Williamsport High School (Maryland) and Edmondson High School (Kentucky).

The panel of judges includes former NFL head coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy and representatives of the four previous recipients along with Dylan’s mother Heather Rebeor. Teams who have overcome adversity and challenges through sports can submit their entries at FightLikeDylan.org. The deadline for submission is December 5, 2015.

The Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week finds the Shore Sports Network at Brick Township tonight for a big early October matchup in Class A South as the Green Dragons host Jackson Memorial.  You can listen to the live broadcast on 1160/1310AM and online at shoresportsnetwork.com