<img class="size-full wp-image-1582 " style="border: 2px solid black; margin: 8px;" title="si-thomas" src="http://smallscreenscoop.com/w

p-content/uploads/2009/08/si-thomas.jpg” alt=”The Sports Illustrated cover for Ed Thomas” width=”240″ height=”319″ />

The Sports Illustrated cover for Ed Thomas

ABC is broadcasting a high school football game live tonight at 7:30 pm/6:30 pm central and here’s why you should watch it. The school hosting the game is Aplington-Parkersburg High School, located about 20 minutes from where I grew up. About 16 months ago, Parkersburg was devestated by an EF-5 tornado. It actually came right through my backyard; we were in the basement, strapping ourselves to pipes. I’ve never been so scared in my life.

But our house was fine. Parkersburg was not. Thousands lost their homes, their business and 8 people lost their lives. The community rallied around the high school football program and its coach, Ed Thomas. A community leader, he used the cleaning up of the football field as a symbolic healing of the town. Players came from all the state to help clean up debris and glass from the field. Players from Kirk Ferentz’s University of Iowa Hawkeyes came. Aplington-Parkersburg’s biggest rivals pitched in. The Aplington-Parkersburg NFL players came home to help out. It was a touching, stunning effort that they had that field ready in time for August football.

Then two months ago, Mark Becker, a disturbed former student at APHS and a former player of Ed Thomas, walked into the early morning weight training session and shot Ed Thomas repeatedly in the head in front of 30 students. Thomas died shortly thereafter.

The entire state was saddened and shocked. Ed Thomas was not only the 2005 NFL high school coach of the year, with 4 former players currently playing on NFL rosters (the most per capita of any town in the country), but he was a pillar of the community and he was cut down in a senseless crime.

The community that had finally gotten back on its feet following the devastating tornado now had to deal with the loss of its leader. The NFL players came home and were photographed weeping as they carried Ed Thomas’s casket. It was a tragedy beyond words.

Ed Thomas's pallbearers were his NLF players and sons

So tonight ESPN is coming to our little burg in Iowa. They are broadcasting the Aplington-Parkersburg vs Dike-New Hartford football game live on ABC at 7:30 pm/6:30 pm eastern for all the world to see. Please tune in and watch.

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