The Mohawk Valley Challengers, a team of special needs children, are ready to defend their flag football title against local law enforcement in a big rematch Saturday.

William and Jessica Pope and the Ilion Pop Warner program started the Mohawk Valley Challengers in 2014. It's only program of its kind between Syracuse and Albany. "We've grown from 7 to 16 players from all over central New York," says head coach Brad Preston. "The program is dedicated to providing a positive, family team orientated experience for the players and their parents. We even throw in life skills during practice each week."

Saturday, October 30th is a big rematch for the Challengers. They'll take on local law enforcement officers to defend their title.

The only way the officers will score a touchdown is if we have a box of donuts in the end zone

New York State Trooper Neil Case has recruited heavily for the big game and says they have a few tricks up his sleeve. "We don't take them lightly. I've got a whole new group of guys coming in. We're not flowing flags. If someone makes a penalty, we're writing tickets."

The threat isn't scaring any of the Challengers. "I asked one of my players if they had any plans," says coach Preston. "They said 'the only way the officers will score a touchdown is if we have a box of donuts in the end zone.'"

The games aren't about winners and losers. Preston says they're about just being able to take the field. "It's fulfilling a dream these kids have. We are proud of not just our football team, our families, our community but especially ourselves."

The games aren't just for the kids either. "It focuses on what these kids are capable of it," says Trooper Case. "It's pretty awesome to watch. It touches a lot of hearts."

The law enforcement team isn't the only ones with plans for this Saturday's game. "The losing team will be escorted off the field in handcuffs," explains coach Preston.

Officers in handcuffs will be a sight to see. Don't miss the game Saturday at the South 5th Ave field in Ilion. Kickoff is at noon.



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