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The DM United 8th grade football team prepares to take the field.

Outside of the NFL and the college postseason, the football season is largely over for 2023-24. But we have a nice story to share from earlier this season on the gridiron about Des Moines Public School students coming together to work hard… and win.

The 8th Grade DM United Football Team was created to provide more experiences and opportunities for middle school football players at Des Moines Public Schools. The intention was to showcase the amazing talent that exists in DMPS by competing in this Fall’s Westside Football Classic Tournament.

The team was composed of players and coaches representing the five high school feeder patterns: East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, and Roosevelt. Brad Manson, who teaches at Goodrell Middle School, is the head coach, aided by five assistant coaches representing each of the five high schools. The team came together over the course of eight practices.

“In what can be considered a piecemeal team, the players gelled and quickly accepted each other as a member of a larger family,” noted Coach Manson. “Players coming from different schools and programs and rivalries did not get in the way of uniting as one team. At the first practice, I got a feeling that this team was going to do some amazing things in the weeks ahead. Each player understood why they were selected to be a part of this team and accepted the challenge.”

The season culminated at the Westside Classic Football tournament, which took place on a cold weekend in the end of October. The DM United team played one game on Saturday and two on Sunday.

“It is safe to say that many of the players were nervous and did not know what to expect going into the tournament,” added Manson. “It was a new experience for everyone.”

The DMPS team won their first game 26-0, instilling confidence in the team. Their second game on Sunday was another big win, coming out on top 36-0 and moving on to the championship later that same afternoon. With just three hours until kickoff, the players and coaches kept each other focused and fired up to face another undefeated team. Playing what Coach Manson described as smart, physical football, DM United won 22-14 to bring home the tournament trophy.

A thank you to the coaches for their work in organizing the team. We look forward to seeing more of these student-athletes during the next four years in high school.

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The DM United football team poses with their trophy after winning the Westside Football Classic Tournament.

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