FONTANA, Calif. With a chance to play in a championship football game, a bunch of Primary boys decided to choose the right and keep the Sabbath Day holy.
The Fontana Generals, a team of 9- and 10-year-olds, went 11-0 during the Southern California Junior All-American league, which they joined because of an understanding that it was a Saturday-only league. But when the league scheduled the championship game against the Corona Chargers for Sunday, Dec. 4, the Generals were in a dilemma.
The decision whether to participate on Sunday was ultimately left up to the players. Four of them Chad Mitchell, A.J. and Ami Latu, and Sione Takitaki are 9-year-old members of the Church. They joined together with Jordan Ah Honi, a Methodist and cousin of the Latus, in the decision not to play. They didn't pressure the other members of the team to join them in sitting out, but their teammates joined them in deciding to forfeit rather than break the Sabbath.
"The boys started as a team and wanted to end as a team," said Chad's mother, Areli.
The players' decision received extensive media coverage in the area, focusing on the religious reasons behind it. As the word got out, the community rallied to see that obstacles to moving the game to another day, such as finding a lighted field, were solved. With that support, the league moved the game to Tuesday evening, Dec. 7, at Corona High School.
The opponent was the Corona Chargers who entered the game 10-1, their only loss to the Generals during the regular season.
The players on the Generals' team had to learn another lesson in the game which they lost 12-0.
Assistant coach Chad Edginton said, "Heavenly Father answered our prayers that we could play the game, but He never said we were going to win."
One thing the team thought about was that if they had won the game, maybe they would have forgotten the reason they were able to play the game in the first place.
"It's been a good missionary experience," said Brother Edginton, who teaches the deacons in the Summit Ward, Fontana California Stake. As the media covered the story, people started inquiring about the young boys and the reason for their decision. He said his son, Mitchell, when interviewed on television, bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Adults learned that sometimes they can learn from children, Brother Edginton added. "They stood up and they haven't wavered a bit. It's great to see how solid these kids are."
He said the team will take the lessons it has learned and move on, looking forward to another season.
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