Sports Editor

FOYIL — They should be tossing around the idea of changing the high school mascot here.

The Panthers just won’t do.

Not tough enough. Not rugged enough.

If Foyil wants to make a statement on grit, on tenacity, on stout-heartedness, turn the Panthers loose.

Become known as the Foyil Dales. Or, the Foyil Gilmores. Or, the Foyil Dale Gilmores.

The real Dale Gilmore is the personification of toughness.

He should be the face of Foyil football.

He’s been a member of the Foyil football team for four seasons.

He is rough and ready. Hard-nosed and hard-bodied.

Coaches call him the toughest player on the team.

He knows no pain. Ignores injuries. Plays hurt.

He has the mindset of a rodeo cowboy. Don’t let a broken bone or two stand in your way.

He is dedicated. Dedicated to football. Dedicated to his teammates. Dedicated to his coaches.

He is a team player. An unselfish player.

A team nickname should engender pride, ignite emotions, strike fear in the heart of the opponent.

The Foyil Dale Gilmores would be a rallying point. A focal point.

You give more if you’re a Gilmore.

The Foyil Dale Gilmores would mean business. Tough business.

Opponents would run away from the Foyil Dale Gilmores.

The Dale Gilmores would command respect.

On the football field, the real Dale Gilmore can be found at any position, giving his all. Tackling. Running. Blocking.

The real Dale Gilmore has played every position except quarterback.

He has played with a broken leg. A concussion. A broken rib. Another concussion.

He does not miss practices. Does not miss games. Does not complain.

“If we had 11 kids with his heart, with his determination, it would make my job easy,” Foyil coach Trent Worley says.

“We’d win a lot of football games with kids like him.”

Trying to take Dale Gilmore out of the lineup, even when he is injured, is, in Worley’s words: “Like trying to take the bottle away from my son, who’s nine months old, when he’s screaming, ‘I’m hungry and I’m ready to eat.’

“Dale has that same hunger for football.”

Gilmore is a 5-11 senior, and weighs 180 pounds. He is listed as a lineman.

He can, and will, play any position, Worley says, “If it means that he gives us the best chance to win.”

Gilmore walks with a limp. But he doesn’t run with a limp on the football field.

“He’s not a drama show,” Worley says. “He’s not looking for pity.”

Gilmore broke the fibula of his right leg while playing a game as a sophomore.

He walked off the field on his own.

He was not examined by a doctor. Not then, anyway.

He could live with the pain, he said. He could not live without football.

The break healed. Not correctly. But enough that Gilmore could play some more that season. And all of last season.

“It bothers me in practice, but in a game, I don’t think about it,” he said.

Eventually, a doctor told Gilmore that the leg should be re-broken and set.

“The first time it happened, I was too pumped up to feel it,” Gilmore said.

“I’ll probably feel this one. They’ll have to put me to sleep this time.”

Still, Gilmore is calling the shots on when he makes an appointment with the doctor.

“Not until after the football season,” Gilmore said.

As a freshman, he sustained a broken rib while playing with the varsity. He was hit hard enough to also sustain a concussion.

“I kept playing,” he said. “The coaches finally took me out when they realized I was not all there.”

But an injured, or dazed, Gilmore, at 75 percent or so, can be more of a force than some players at 100 percent.

“I love football,” he said.

“I hate missing games. Hate it! Missing a game hurts more than a broken leg.”

Worley understands the importance of football for Gilmore.

“He is the prototypical high school football player,” Worley said. “He knows that this is his opportunity. He’s got a short time frame in his life to enjoy playing this game.

“He doesn’t want anybody to take that away from him.

“He realizes that one day it will all be over. He’s living every moment to its fullest right now.”

Gilmore would like to play college football.

“That’s why I’ve got to get my leg fixed,” he said.

Not to correct a limp.

Not to alleviate pain.

Just to extend his football career.

Dale Gilmore loves football.

His name should be a synonym for “football player who plays with pain and dedication.”

To play hard should be referred to as “playing like Dale.”

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