The Washington alumni team came up short in a close 15-14 loss to rival Metamora Saturday afternoon at Babcook Field, but one family will remember it for more than just the box score.
The Beard family had players on both sides of the football and on the sidelines.
The father, former Peoria High School football coach and currently on the Washington football team’s coaching staff, Gary Beard, helped contain the Metamora offense at the linebacker position.
The 64-year-old and 1970 graduate was the oldest player on the field for Washington.
“I’m too slow to keep up with the fast guys like my son,” Beard said. “I figured linebacker would be my best bet these days.”
His son, 2004 Washington graduate, Nick Beard, played wide receiver and kick returner.
“It’s pretty cool,” Nick said. “I grew up around football. My dad coached for as long as I can remember and I guess he was pretty good back in the day. When they gave us the opportunity it was pretty cool because not many people get the opportunity to play with their dad. It kind of just happened at the right time where he’s not out of shape or anything yet.”
Nick had been living in Los Angeles for the last 10 years until he returned home last fall, just a few weeks after the first annual alumni game.
The 30-year-old has helped coach the football program since returning home.
Over the last year, the two talked about playing in this years game extensively.
“Nick said, ‘Hey, lets do it,”’ Gary said. “We don’t get it very often, so you do things that you can do when you think a opportunity never comes around again.”
In high school, Nick wore No. 25 when he played under the Friday night lights. That number played a part in Saturday’s game.
Gary wore No. 2 and Nick wore No. 5.
“We figured we’d put that combo together, team it up somehow,” Gary said.
Ironically, junior MaKenna Beard is a cheerleader for Washington, giving the Beard family one more member in the memorable game.
“It just happened that my daughter is a football cheerleader, so we’re making it a family deal,” Gary said.
As for the game itself, Washington came up short after Metamora scored on a 43-yard catch and run by Steve Estes midway through the fourth quarter.
Charlie Nowotnik gave the Redbirds the lead on a run up the middle for the two-point conversion making the score 15-14.
The Panthers came close in their final drive, but were unable to get in the end zone.
Washington quarterback Austin Fisher threw for a touchdown and ran one in on a draw play to help the Panthers offensively.