MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW)-- The high school football playoffs are right around the corner. To the surprise of no one, the Edgar Wildcats and Stratford Tigers have aspirations of winning a gold ball. But last week, they came together for a moment bigger than football.
Stratford and Edgar Football come together for a group prayer honoring the life of Edgar resident Larry Mueller on October 11, 2019.
"It was just amazing, coming together for Luke's dad."
The Tigers clinched the Marwood conference with a 6-0 victory over Edgar last Friday, but that was far from the most significant event of the evening.
"It's something you don't forget ever."
The Friday prior, Edgar junior receiver and defensive back Lucas Mueller, lost his father Larry after a battle with cancer.
Jerry Sinz, Edgar head coach, said "People in Stratford probably knew this guy as much as the people in Edgar did.”
That's because Larry Mueller was a Stratford graduate. Which led to an amazing moment after the game, when two fierce rivals on the field, came together for a group prayer in honor of the late Edgar native.
"I didn't know how many guys would want to do the prayer, because they are our arch rivals,” said Jason Tubbs, Stratford head coach. “I thought maybe five, ten (people), then all of a sudden it just seemed like it was full participation."
"That was pretty cool,” said Edgar senior football player Ethan Lemmer. “We didn't know that that was going to happen until pretty much game-day."
Leading that prayer was Stratford senior Teddy Redman, a star on the gridiron, who shines even brighter without a helmet on.
"I came down and went and sat on my knees like everybody else getting ready to pray,” said Redman. “Everybody was looking at me expecting me to pray already. And they told me to go in the circle, and I took that chance."
Redman could relate to Lucas Mueller maybe better than anyone in that circle. He was adopted from Liberia when he was seven years old, but before that, only knew life without a father figure.
"I understood that from now on, life's not going to be the same for him, but I was just happy to be a part of the prayer,” said Redman. “Let him know he can lean on someone besides his family. That he has all the Stratford community on his back, and the Edgar community, and all the coaches and his friends."
It was an emotional night between two of the most dominant programs in the area. An evening that more importantly, showed the power of sports, something that no one present will ever forget.
Lemmer said, "No matter how big of rivals you are or enemies or anything, you can always come together for a common cause."
"Everybody's been putting the game so high up that at the end of the day, the game becomes low and faith and friends and family really become at the top of everybody's heart,” said Redman.
Sinz said simply: "There's a lot of things that mean a heck of a lot more than playing a football game."
The Mueller family understandably didn't want to talk during this incredibly difficult time. However, the Edgar football team says their goal is to win a state title this year, and dedicate it to the memory of Larry Mueller.