The Mariners were selected out of hundreds of youth teams across the state to play on the turf at Ford Field during halftime of the Lions’ final preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.
“The kids were excited. It’s not every day you get to go and do that kind of thing,” said Vinton, whose son Tyler plays for the Mariners. “That’s something they should remember for quite a while. I will for sure. I know the parents are still talking about it today.”
Vinton said an assistant coach entered the Mariners’ name in a drawing held by the Lions each year. The Mariners were one of a few lucky teams to have their name drawn.
“You have to put your name in a draft, and they draw teams randomly,” Vinton said. “We’ve done it before, but we’ve never been picked.”
As part of the experience, the Mariners were invited to a pregame tailgate party outside Ford Field.
“They had a bunch of bounce houses, and the kids got to do an autography session,” Vinton said. “Eddie Murray was there. We got to see his Super Bowl ring from when he played with the Cowboys. The kids didn’t know who he was, but I thought it was cool.”
As halftime of the Lions’ game neared, the Mariners lined up in the tunnel heading down onto the field. As the Lions and the Bills headed up the tunnel to the locker rooms at halftime, several came over and high-fived the kids waiting to run out onto the field.
“Nick Fairley came by and shook their hands, then Ndamukong Suh took it a step further, crouching down to the kids’ level and fist-bumping each one as he went by."
On the field, the Mariners got to run five offensive and five defensive plays against the Farmington Hills Rockets.
In their five offensive plays, the Mariners scored three times from the 35-yard line. On defense, they stuffed Farmington for little gain on each play.
“The kids were more worried about all the people up in the stands, but the defense played really good,” Vinton said. “I don’t know if (Farmington) gained 2 yards in all their plays.”
Members of the Mariners’ Dynamite team who played in Detroit are Dayne Arnett, Kennedy Braginton, Kayce Colburn, Zack Epplett, Ryan Francis, Jaxon Franz, Luke Hosley, Jarrett Hutson, Dayton Holmes, Taylen Inthisane, Aiden Kempf, Jacarri Thomas, Brayden Kunde, Paul Kunde, Ryan Kunde, Kasra Lindrup, Keondre McIntosh, Devonte McLaurin, Hunter Nash, LJ Sandoval, Nic Stump, Logan Vining, Riley Vining, Tyler Vinton and Andrew Wagenmaker.
There are three Mariners teams this fall: the Mini-Mites (ages 5-7), Dynamite (ages 8-9) and Pee Wee (ages 10-11). They play their home games at Robinson Township Park.
The Mariners open their season this Saturday.