DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – An undefeated football season takes a hit off the field. A religious foundation pointed out illegal prayer practices at a public school in Dunmore. Now the Dunmore Bucks have to decide if they’ll continue the tradition without their coaches.
Eyewitness News reporter Haley Bianco takes us to the field to see what they chose.
A tradition that goes back as far as anyone can remember… A prayer before kick-off.
“We pray to the good lord hoping none of our players, or the other players, are hurt because we know how hard they work,” said head coach Jack Henzes.
Head coach Jack Henzes has been leading the team prayer for the past 45 years– a tradition that’s now a thing of the past. A group called The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently complained to the school district– shedding light that it is illegal for a public school employee to endorse religious beliefs.
“We never told any player they had to go to church or do this or that and it’s up to them to decide what they want to do,” said Henzes.
And the team has made its decision.
“We’re going to go on the 50-yard-line and say the Our Father,” said Colin Holmes, senior running back and quarterback.
And they did — kneeling in prayer on the field — despite the objections of the religious foundation which is based in Wisconsin.
“It doesn’t reflect this area,” said a parent.
Parents say it’s a shame that an out of state organization barged into this tight-knit community, a community that supports the tradition and hopes to see it continue.
“This community has been built on a foundation of tradition and values and I think this is just one way that we show it. We’re very tight-knit here and i think everyone can use a little prayer at one time or another,” said Rebecca Castellano, parent.
As for the tradition, the players say it’s here to stay.
“We have a good close-knit team with the older guys and younger guys and we’ll definitely carry on the tradition,” said Holmes.
The bucks are still undefeated after winning tonight’s game 41-0.