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Golden Tigers travel to Hoover to celebrate birthday

Russellville is a two-hour drive from Hoover, but a contingent of the Russellville football team recently made the special trip south to help 8-year-old Logan Short celebrate his dream football-themed birthday party.

Short, cousin of Russellville senior football player Caden Watts, has been coming to Russellville football games for years and developed a love for Golden Tiger football.

“He knows the players’ names and really just loves the whole atmosphere,” said Short’s aunt and Russellville High School teacher Niki Watts.

For Short’s eighth birthday, Watts said his dream was to have Russellville players come to Hoover and run plays with him and his friends for a Tennessee Titans football-themed party with Golden Tiger flair.

Caden Watts and two of his senior teammates, Peyton Ray and Grayson Eady, were happy to oblige.

“I thought that would be a really great thing to do, to drive down and see some kids play football,” Ray said.

The Golden Tiger trio traveled to Hoover wearing their home jerseys to run drills with the group of 8-year-olds and help coach them in a scrimmage game.

“It brings you back, big time, to being a little kid and thinking about how you used to look up to the players,” Caden Watts said. “It was great to get to see how excited they all were.”

Ray said his favorite part of the experience was getting to be a referee in the scrimmage game. “That was definitely fun to get to do.”

To accent the scrimmage game, cheerleaders made a breakthrough sign for the children to run through, just like in a real high school game.

“The kids were cheered on, and they loved the entire experience, getting to feel like they were playing in a real game,” Niki Watts said.

Ray said it was heartwarming to see how the children looked up to him and his teammates.

“Whenever you are out on the field, you know that you have these kids looking up to you, just like you used to look up to older guys,” Ray said. “Getting to work with them – it really felt like we were helping encourage the new generation.”

Caden Watts said now that he and his senior teammates have ended their last RHS football season, it feels like things have come full circle, to be able to inspire future players.

As for Short, he is now an honorary Golden Tiger, with memories of a golden eighth birthday that will last a lifetime.