Football is More Than a Game to Jr.League Player

 Victoria Fregoso reports, vfregoso@k2tv.com

 The season for the Riverton Junior Football League is coming to an end. And while each player has their own reason for loving the game, to one 11-year-old boy, football is more than just a game. 



 For 30 years, the Riverton Junior Football League has given kindergarten to sixth grade students the opportunity to suit up and take part in one of America's favorite sports.

"Kids just love football," Brett Watson, President of the Riverton Junior Football League explains. "They grow up watching it on TV and this is their chance to put on the pads and play. They're thrilled about it."

Take it from 11-year-old Laiton Ivie, who plays defensive cornerback and wide receiver for the Panthers in the Riverton Junior Football League.

"I like playing football because all the excitement and stuff," Ivie said. "And I just want to hit people and stuff."

Laiton's ties with the gridiron game goes back to his earlier years of life.
He was born with a rare form of stage 4 kidney cancer. 
When the Riverton Police Department and Volunteer Fire Department held their annual charity football game ten years ago, they selected Laiton to be the star of the game and assisted with his medical treatments.

"During that time you could see him on the sidelines wearing his own little jersey, it was this look of amazement and awe in his little eyes," Laiton's mother, Erin Ivie recalls. "And it's carried on, it's never gone away. That sparkle has never gone away for the game."

His love for the game is what brings him here today.
Up until the middle of the season, Laiton was cheering from the bleachers with his family.
But when his doctor gave him permission to play, he jumped right in.

"We would get home and he says "Oh my gosh, I need to go to bed right now so I can get up and go to practice tomorrow." And he was so excited for his first game," Erin said.

One of his coaches played in the charity football game that took place years ago and is happy to see the progress the Panthers have made this season.

"It's kind of nice knowing that football was something that actually helped him when he was a very young child and now he's here playing football and enjoying it with the rest of his friends," Panthers Defensive Coordinator, Frisco Saunders said.

Tuesday night marked their last game of the season, which Laiton also says was his favorite. The coaches agree.

"As a corner back, he was the one making the biggest hits and the hardest hits and coming in and he made some big plays for us tonight," Bruce Hinkley, the Panthers Offensive Coordinator said.

And if you're wondering if Laiton plans on having a future in football...

"Mmmhmm and I just want to play really bad, so yea."