Suiting up: Alumni games give players one more chance
In 1985, Bob Cazet was sitting around a table after graduating from college, when one of his friends posed the question.
"What is one thing that you wish you could do?"
The responses from his friends were varied and adventurous. Cazet had one thing in mind.
"I'd want to play one more high school football game."
That was the story Cazet opened with Tuesday night at Angelos II in Sterling in front of a room consisting of 80-90 former football players from Amboy, Morrison, Newman, Rock Falls and Sterling.
The sentiment seemed to be shared among those gathered.
Cazet, who operates Alumni Football USA, is in Illinois this week helping to organize potential alumni games for the upcoming summer. The games are full-padded and full-contact. The company has put on more than 200 games across the country the last few years and is planning to run more than 500 games this year.
The company provides the equipment. The players pay a $100 fee and have to sign an insurance waiver.
Each team is responsible for pre-sale of tickets, with half the proceeds from pre-sale tickets going back to the company and the other half going to a cause or charity of each team's choosing.
The company gets all the profit for tickets sold at the gate.
He appears to have two games almost set featuring former stars from local communities.
Those games – Newman vs. Morrison and Sterling vs. Rock Falls – are tentatively set for July 27. The location of the games is still to be determined, although Roscoe Eades Stadium could be the site pending approval by Sterling Schools.
He hopes to have more games, and he will be visiting schools around the area in the next couples of days.
Cazet was contacted by Chuck Hulke, a Morrison resident who works at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. Hulke played in an alumni game in Iowa and proposed bringing games to the Sauk Valley.
Hulke contacted Mike Papoccia and Tim Nelson at Newman High School. Nelson liked the idea from the start.
"Chuck Hulke contacted me, and we sort of went from there," Nelson said. "We put it out on Facebook, and we started to get a lot of interest."
Nelson planned to help coach, but after attending the meeting decided that he wanted to get on the field again. He hasn't played since 1989 when he played for Aurora University.
The turnout was diverse from recent high school graduates to men with children that have already graduated.
"Some of it's machismo," Nelson said. "But then you have a guy like Curt Repass, who graduated in 1977, who wants the chance to play one down with his two sons."
Nelson also said that longtime Newman coach and athletic director Mike Papoccia has said he wants to get in for two plays – his first and his last.
Players can sign up for teams at alumnifootballusa.com. For more information on starting a game, contact Bob Cazet at 855-843-8448.
What is it?
• Fully-padded, full-contact football games between alumni of two rival schools. Games consist of four 15-minute quarters.
• Games are tentatively set between alumni of Newman and Morrison, and Rock Falls and Sterling for July 27.
• Players can continue to sign up on website listed below. Cost is $100, and they must sign insurance waiver
Want to play
• Bob Cazet wants to set up more games in the area for this year. Visit alumnifootballusa.com for information, or contact Cazet at 855-843-8448.