NEW LOTHROP (WJRT) (11/10/19) - Since the playoffs last year, the New Lothrop Hornets football team has made a few very noticeable additions to their uniforms.
"When we have our socks on, we have our helmets on, right when we put our helmets on, we know we're playing for Buddy," senior Colby Hemgesberg explained.
Buddy Miller was a New Lothrop kid who loved football and looked up to every high school player.
But at just 7-years-old, he was diagnosed with the inoperable brain tumor DIPG.
"He was always happy, upbeat and it was just like - just a great thing to see, especially at all the football games," senior Zach Savage said. "He was always out there after we were walking off the field."
After a courageous battle, Buddy passed away October 19th, 2018.
That night the Hornets lost their first game that season.
They've won every game since.
"It was one of those things where, you know, adversity can tear a community apart or it can build it together," senior Jack Graves explained. "And, I think we took it well and kind of bounced back and learned from it."
"It's just really brought our team together, it brought our community together' and it's just showing these guys hey you know, we can --even just being a little football team, there's a power that we have and things we can do together," head coach Clint Galvas said.
After Friday's win, his boys are now just three games away from taking the state title again this year. It's a feat they're accomplishing with Buddy on their minds.
"You know, whenever I'm tired or feeling like I'm close to my breaking point, I always think he never gave up," Savage said. "Buddy never gave up, so that's kind of what pushes me to go further and not give up."
Graves added, "If he can do it, we gotta do it for him."
A comfort and joy that Buddy's parents are grateful for as they continue to grieve the unthinkable loss of their young son.
"They do it because they have a heart of gold," Buddy's Dad, Brad Miller said. "When we first saw the Buddy socks on the boys, it was a feeling of joy, of hope and of honor, of really what this team has meant to us and really what Buddy's meant to them."
Miller said the team has also helped raise money for the Team Buddy Forever Foundation; and his 5th grade team even retired his number.