The Lee County unified flag football team will try for a second state championship at the Super 7 on Nov. 30 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The unified team is made up of Special Olympics athletes and Auburn High School student-athletes. On the team this year are seven Special Olympics athletes and four AHS students, known as peer partners in unified sports.
This is the second year the Lee County Special Olympics has had its high school unified flag football team, and head coach Dana Stewart believes the team has a good chance to take state once again.
"Of course! But I'm a little biased," she said. "I think they have a good chance to win. We've got to work on a few things, and we have some new players this year. I always remind them, 'Have fun while you're playing. Don't forget — yes, compete, but don't forget to have some fun with it, too. They're looking forward to it."
Last year, the team defeated Hewitt-Trussville 25-7 to earn the title. This year, the team will go against Vestavia Hills.
The team found out it would get to compete for the title this year after winning a playoff game last week, which was hosted in Auburn. Stewart said the athletes are impatient to get back on the field.
"They don't like it that they have to wait so long," she said. "They wanted to play the next day. We'll still have practices like usual, but they're real excited that its going to be here so that more of their family and friends can see them because a lot didn't get to travel last year. That's the most important thing."
The Special Olympics athletes on the unified team are high school age teenagers from Smiths Station, Opelika, Auburn and elsewhere in Lee County. The peer partners are all football players at Auburn High. Stewart said starting the unified sports team has allowed some Special Olympics athletes to compete on another level.
"The thing that's so great about unified sports is it lets those players that are a little bit more advanced, they get to compete at a higher level," she said. "It's so rewarding and not just watching these kids, but you get to see them play their ability, not their disability."
The state championship game will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Stewart encouraged the community to come support the athletes.
"I hope everybody will check us out on our Special Olympics Lee County Facebook page to keep updated about the event and come out and show their support for our Lee County Tigers," she said.
There is also a college-level unified flag football team representing Lee County, which Stewart also coaches with the help of a local fraternity. The team will play its Iron Bowl game on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.