MONTGOMERY VILLAGE – Seneca Valley and Watkins Mill came out the victors on the field Thursday when they faced Montgomery County Police, but the big winners may have been – well everyone.
By a 47-35 margin, the police assisted both sides as the Seneca Valley Screaming Eagles beat the Watkins Mill Wolverines in a friendly game of flag football – a first for the cops and the kids.
The game, the brainchild of police after they met with Watkins Mill football players protesting the national anthem, was a surprising success according to everyone involved.
Watkins Mill senior captain Brian McNeary said he was able to see similarities between himself and the police officers.
“I learned they’re not just after all of us,” said McNeary.
McNeary was one of the students who took a knee during the national anthem at football games this season to protest police brutality.
Sgt. Dan Helton said having the players be able to relate to him and his fellow officers was one of the reasons for participating in the game.
Helton said officers want the students to see officers “not just as a uniform.”
Officer Rich Reynolds, who helped organize the event, said the idea resulted from a casual discussion between county police and members of the Watkins Mill football team.
The informal meeting took place at the school library one evening after several players began kneeling during the national anthem in protest, Helton said.
During the meeting one of the young teens asked the question that became the spark for the game:
“We don’t have too many male role models that are good, can you start a mentoring program?”
On Thursday the cops and the kids took their first steps together.