Review Category : National Sports

Football Coach Gets Big Surprise ‘Thank You’ from High School Players, Live on “GMA”

ABC News(BENTON HARBOR, Mich.) — Benton Harbor High School in Benton Harbor, Michigan, had not had a winning football season since 1989. That all changed when coach Elliot Uzelac came into the picture and became the head coach of the Tigers.

His wife, Wendy, told ABC’s Good Morning America how it happened.

“He’d been retired for a couple of years … and I said, ‘Elliott, I think you’re kind of bored.’ And he said, ‘Yes, a little bit.'”

She told him about Benton Harbor.

“And I said go to Benton Harbor, they don’t have anybody and they need somebody,” she said.

She was right.

After years as a successful college football coach, Uzelac came out of retirement in July to coach the Tigers for a salary of only $1 per year.

He turned around the losing team and touched the lives of the students in the troubled district.

“We needed him and he needed us. It was a perfect fit — made in heaven,” said Ruth Harvey, the team’s equipment manager.

Jeremy Burrell, a football player, remembers Uzelac’s encouraging words. The head coach told the team it had lots of work to do.

“‘We’re going to get it done,'” Burrell said, recalling Uzelac’s words.

Percy Brown has his own memories about the coach.

“Next game he said, ‘You all are going to win,’ and we won … and we just kept winning,” Brown said.

The team made it to the playoffs. In the first game, Brown scored three touchdowns.

“The team had fun. We couldn’t believe it … the crowd was crazy,” Brown said.

Harvey said a lot of the players on the team come from single parent homes and many have to help their parents. She says the coach has a passion for what he does and an unconditional love for his players.

Brown said the coach motivated him to do better.

“He said he’s going to get me in college no matter what it takes,” Brown said. “The team is a team now … we’ve got respect. He [respects] us, we respect him and he’s just opening doors for us.”

Burrell shares the general admiration for the coach.

“He’s like a grandfather. I’d probably do anything for that man, because [of] the things he did for me and my team,” Burrell said. “Thank you for coming to Benton Harbor High School and teaching us and being with us and sticking with us.”

And Monday the players and other members of the school’s student body and faculty gathered to give Uzelac the surprise of a lifetime.

The coach entered the school’s gym under the impression that there was a pep rally Monday morning, but he had no idea it was actually in honor of him, as a way for the school to give him a huge surprise “thank you” live on GMA.

“Oh man. Oh man,” a stunned Uzelac said as he walked into the gym rubbing his forehead in disbelief. “I can’t believe this. Unbelievable.”

But the pep rally honoring the beloved coach wasn’t the only surprise.

ABC News’ T.J. Holmes announced that the RetailMeNot app, as part of its new “Save It Forward” program, is giving a $10,000 scholarship to a Benton Harbor graduate. The scholarship will be called “The Coach Uzelac Scholarship.”

“I thank you for this. This will be great for our student athletes,” said Uzelac. “And I hope this encourages all the students at Benton Harbor High School because this is a great place with a lot of great people, and we are the Harbor. No doubt about it.”

The 40 players on the team also got a huge surprise, though. For all their hard work on and off the field, Uzelac’s football players learned they were going on an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The students erupted in cheers, screaming and jumping up down in excitement.

“I’m going to Disney World,” one player yelled.

“This means so much to these young men,” said Uzelac. “I’ll never forget this.”

The Walt Disney Company owns ABC News.

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Joe Flacco Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear

Getty Images Sport/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s game, ESPN reports.

Flacco said he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament in his left knee on the first play of the final drive of his team’s victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Despite the injury he finished out the game, handing off on the next two plays while hobbling and spiked the ball to stop the clock for Justin Tucker’s 47-yard field goal.

“I wanted to win a game,” he said. “I don’t know if [staying on the field] was the best thing, but it’s just a reaction.”

The injury will be the first time Flacco will miss a game since being drafted by the Ravens in 2008. He has started 122 straight games in his career, the fifth-longest streak in NFL history, according to ESPN.

Flacco was hurt three quarters after the Ravens lost starting running back Justin Forsett to a broken right arm.

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Kyle Busch Wins Sprint Cup Championship

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — Kyle Busch completed a remarkable comeback Sunday night by winning his first career Sprint Cup Series championship.

He finished first in the Chase finale, the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, to claim the championship.

Busch suffered a broken right leg and broken left foot during an XFINITY Series race at Daytona in February. He was sidelined until the Sprint Cup’s All-Star Race.

Busch competed for the championship Sunday along with the retiring veteran Jeff Gordon, defending champ Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

Gordon finished sixth in the race. He now moves on to a broadcasting career with Fox.

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Scoreboard Roundup — 11/22/15

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here’s the latest scores and winners:


Dallas 24, Miami 14
Denver 17, Chicago 15
Indianapolis 24, Atlanta 21
Houston 24, N-Y Jets 17
Detroit 18, Oakland 13
Baltimore 16, St. Louis 13
Tampa Bay 45, Philadelphia 17
Carolina 44, Washington 16
Kansas City 33, San Diego 3
Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13
Seattle 29, San Francisco 13
Arizona 34, Cincinnati 31

Toronto 91, L-A Clippers 80
Brooklyn 111, Boston 101
New Orleans 122, Phoenix 116
Oklahoma City 117, Dallas 114
Golden State 118, Denver 105
Portland 107, L-A Lakers 93

Carolina 4, Los Angeles 3
San Jose 5, Columbus 3
Montreal 4, N-Y Islanders 2
New Jersey 3, Vancouver 2


(5) Duke 86, Georgetown 84
(6) Virginia 83, George Mason 66
(11) Villanova 75, Akron 56
(12) Arizona 61, Northwestern St. 42
(16) Utah 74, Temple 68
(21) Purdue 85, Florida 70
Miami 85, (22) Butler 75
(25) Oregon 73, Valparaiso 67

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Chiefs’ Dontari Poe Becomes Heaviest NFL Player to Score Rushing TD

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) — Dontari Poe made National Football League history on Sunday.

The 346-pound defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs scored the first touchdown in a game against the San Diego Chargers and became the heaviest player in the NFL to ever rush for a touchdown.

According to Pro Football Reference, the previous record-holder was William “Refrigerator” Perry weighing in at 335 pounds.

The last time a defensive player for the Chiefs scored a touchdown on an offensive play was in 2011 when defensive back Javier Arenas scored on a 7-yard run, reported ESPN.

The Chiefs crushed the Chargers on Sunday, 33-3.

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Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Forsett Out With Broken Arm

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — Justin Forsett, running back for the Baltimore Ravens, broke his right arm in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams, reports ESPN.

The injury occurred when Forsett was slammed to the ground by Aaron Donald, the Rams’ defensive tackle.

Forsett is just the latest Ravens player to go on injured reserve. In October, the Ravens lost receiver Steve Smith Sr. to an Achilles injury. Three other players are also on injured reserve, says ESPN.

Buck Allen will replace Forsett.

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Roger Federer to Face Novak Djokovic in Final of ATP World Tour Finals

Nick Laham/Getty Images(LONDON) — Roger Federer will face Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer beat Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals, securing a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Earlier this week, Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in a 6-3, 6-3 win.

The two players will meet for the seventh final this year, says ESPN.

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No. 9 Michigan State Defeats No. 3 Ohio State

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — It’s the first loss of the season for Ohio State, the defending national champs.

On Saturday, Michigan State beat Ohio State 17-14 at Ohio Stadium in a huge upset and without Michigan State’s starting quarterback, Connor Cook.

The team sealed the deal within seconds of the clock running out with a 41-yard field goal from the Spartans’ Michael Geiger.

After the game, Ohio State star running back Ezekiel Elliott complained to reporters about the outcome, saying it was his final home game and there was “no chance” of him coming back next year.

“How we lost, I just feel like we weren’t put in the right opportunity to win this game, we weren’t put in the right situations to win this game,” Elliott said. “I don’t think Michigan State was better than us. They weren’t. We didn’t execute.”

Saturday’s loss may put a dent in Ohio State’s play-off hopes.

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San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick Placed on Injured Reserve

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been placed on the Injured Reserve List, ending his season with the team and perhaps his career with the 49ers.

The news came Saturday after Kaepernick had been on injury report for his left, non-throwing shoulder.

According to ESPN, the 28-year-old told the 49ers he wanted to have surgery on his shoulder, which prompted the team to put him on IR.

This season was the worst of Kaepernick’s career. He completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,615 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. His passer rating at 78.5 is the fifth lowest in the National Football League among qualified quarterbacks, reports ESPN.

The quarterback’s spot will now be filled by Dylan Thompson, 23, who’s moving up from the team’s practice squad.

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