They could spend Friday afternoon putting in last minute work before a game, but they don't.

They could spend Friday afternoon putting in last minute work before a game, but they don't. 

The Maud Tigers get ready for a big game by spending seventh hour working in Maud Elementary School classrooms. They read Dr. Seuss. They play board games. They even throw footballs and play kickball with older children.

Coach Brant Hayes said he isn't worried about losing a last chance to practice. The team prepares all week. He believes this program is helping build his team in other ways.

"The players become role models. It gives them something to take pride in," Hayes said. "They learn to do something for someone else. It is fun for the guys, but they get held to a higher standard because they know these young kids are watching them and looking up to them."

Junior Bryxton Sanders agreed.

"Little eyes are watching us. You don't want to teach them bad things," Sanders said. "Coach Hayes' kids are some of my biggest fans. I don't want to teach them bad habits. I want to show them the right thing to do."

Brady Arms said the way the players interact with the elementary school teachers is as important as how they work with the kids.

"I always looked up to my older sister's guy friends," Arms said. "I know these kids are looking up to us, so when they see us being respectful to the teachers and saying 'yes sir' and 'no ma'am' they learn that they should too."

Hayes said Maud is no different than other schools. Many of the children come from broken homes or have single parents. They don't get a traditional family experience. The football team fills that gap for players and through the Friday work at the elementary school, they become big brothers to kids who may need one.

Roman Cox said one of his favorite things to do is to play sports with the older kids.

"We have to find out who the next quarterback or running back is going to be," Cox said. "It is a lot of fun to play with them."

He said one class drew football helmets and colored them and the team all signed the pictures for the students.

"We're trying to bring school spirit down to them and show them we're all one school," Arms said. "It isn't just important for the high school to have school spirit."

All three players hope they get to keep taking part in a program like this even after football season is over.

The Tigers also picked up trash before parent teacher conferences recently and soon, they will load up and go watch the Maud Mighty Mite football teams play.

"We're going to support them the same way they support us," Hayes said. "We have some great kids on this team and they are learning that they can make a difference."