TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)__ Twenty-five Seniors played their last regular season home football game as a Manhattan Indian, but it was two young men not able to take the field that made the night so special.
Football players gathered along the sideline of Bishop Stadium to be recognized with their families for "Senior Night."
Two would be seniors Tyler Dowling and Brett Bolton could never be present to receive the honor.
In April of 2011 Tyler, then a freshman was murdered, his killer charged in October of 2012. Brett would lose his life just four months after Tyler in a car accident.
While never able to grow up and play alongside their fellow teammates again, Manhattan High School wouldn't allow the two to go on forgotten.
Head football coach at MHS, Joe Schartz said, "The kids have been great. They've been keeping their spirit alive and deserve this recognition."
The recognition could be seen throughout the game, on flags, helmet decals and underneath the scoreboard.
and underneath the scoreboard.
The Dowling and Bolton families continue to have a heavy heart after losing their sons Tyler and Brett but the support has been their strength.
Leigha Bolton said, "I love getting the sweaty hugs from the football players, but I see all these kids growing up and my kid will always be 15 so it's hard. But, it makes us feel good knowing they'll remember us and some of these kids always will and that's comforting to us.
Angie Dowling, mother of Tyler said, "That was one of my biggest fears, our biggest fears, that Tyler would not be remembered. That is not the case here. He we will be here tonight, he will be here in spirit, always.
The Manhattan Seniors have extended their season and will play at Maize High School Friday, November 8th.
A scholarship fund in memory of Tyler Dowling has been established at the Grater Manhattan Community Foundation to provide annual scholarships to Manhattan High School graduates.
Contributions can be sent to: Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Attn: Tyler Dowling Memorial Fund, 555 Poyntz Avenue, Suite 269, PO Box 1127, Manhattan, KS 66505-1127 (785)587-8995 or online at http://www.mcfks.org/index.cfm.
All donations are tax deductible.