By Hamil R. Harris, Special to the AFRO

It was the first Friday night in October and the Northwestern High School Wildcats would normally be playing another 4A opponent somewhere under the lights in the Maryland suburbs of the Nation’s Capital.

But on the same weekend when the media focused on the Senate hearing of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, these high school players were huddled around a grill in the parking lot of the University Park Church of Christ.

Coach Ken Roberts (center) and members of the Northwestern junior varsity and varsity football teams, gathered at the University Park Church of Christ for a cookout.

As soon as a hamburger or hot dog was ready, Ken Roberts, 56, a deacon at the Hyattsville congregation, was tossing it on a paper plate to give it to players- despite the fact that most of the varsity and junior varsity players had already received their one hotdog and one hamburger quota.

“I love doing this because it’s fun and we are reaching young people and helping them to get a spiritual nugget,” Roberts said.

From the annual Friday night cookout to the Saturday Bible study and breakfast, the members of the University Park congregation have been feeding players for two decades.

Even though the Wildcats are 0 and 5 this season, the commitment by the church remains strong and Wildcat Head Coach Bryan Pierre is very happy.

“It’s an awesome program,” Pierre said.

For more than a decade, the team has held its annual end of the season banquet at the church. When asked why, Pierre said, “it’s a tradition.”

Long before John Johnson was starting safety with the Los Angeles Rams, he was a regular at the church meals. During the first game of the season John’s father came back to Northwestern with one question: “Do they still have the breakfast at the church.”