Kennett football team stops practice, kneels as funeral procession passes

Undefeated Team Learning Life Lessons

KENNETT, Mo. (KAIT) - The Kennett Indians football team is undefeated this season entering District Semifinals, but they’re finding what they do off the field is making an impact in their community.

Coach Joel Wyatt says this season has been full of teachable moments, and those moments have made his team better.

“With 35 players, we’ve really got a unique atmosphere, there’s no jealousy, there’s no finger-pointing,” Coach Wyatt said. “It goes back to our tight-knit groups and just the way we have played together as one unit.”

Thinking of yourself less, that’s what the Indians have tried to do this season.

Back in late October, the Indians were practicing, when they decided, spontaneously to stop their practice.

The reason? A funeral procession for Major Rick Groves was passing through.

“There was no ‘alright guys, take a knee,’” it just kind of snowballed once somebody started it, everybody else did," Coach Wyatt said. “Being respectful, being considerate of your surroundings, those types of things... we want to teach to our team.”

For Coach Wyatt and the Indians, the procession started to put things into perspective.

“When you get started with practice, you’re in the zone and you kind of forget about those things,” Wyatt said. “All of a sudden, we see the people come out of the gym and everyone just kind of took a knee on their own.”

Law enforcement has a special place in Coach Wyatt’s heart. His dad is a former Sergeant and Highway Patrolman for 38 years. He says the procession going by reminded him and the team that life is bigger than football.

“One of my big sayings is, if all I ever teach you is how to block and tackle, then I’ve done a very poor job as a coach,” Wyatt said. "One day, football’s going to be over and we want to teach them things that they’re going to be able to carry on for the rest of their life.”

For Coach Wyatt, these life lessons don’t just come from funeral processions, it’s nights like the District Semifinals as well. It’s the third annual “Pink Out” for Kennett.

Before Friday’s game, breast cancer survivors will be honored at midfield. The tradition started after Coach Wyatt’s mom died of breast cancer in June 2019.

“That just kind of got it rolling, me being the head coach, and my mom having it,” Wyatt said. "Then Tanner Duncan, one of our players, his mom had it and we just wanted to recognize those individuals and anybody else that had it.”

Coach Wyatt says with a good crowd expected for Friday’s game, he wanted to honor those who’ve bravely fought breast cancer.

Copyright 2020 KAIT. All rights reserved.