Southridge and Beaverton unite to honor fallen heroes during Memorial Game

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Southridge High School student body wore black T-shirts and released balloons in a tribute to 2008 Southridge graduate Andrew Keller. Proceeds from T-shirt and balloon sells will benefit creation of a Community Plaza on the east end of the campus stadium. It’s uncommon for cross-town rivals to come together prior to their teams facing off on the football field.

But that is what happened Friday night at Southridge High School as the Beaverton High School Beavers joined the Skyhawks in a patriotic salute to military veterans who were killed in action while serving the United States.

The Beavers showed their respect for Sgt. Damien T. Ficek, a 1996 Beaverton graduate who was killed in combat at the age of 26 on Dec. 30, 2004, while serving near Baghdad in Iraq.

The Skyhawks remembered Pfc. Andrew J. Keller, a 2008 Southridge graduate and 22-year-old Tigard soldier killed in action on Aug. 15, 2012, while leading his unit on a mission in Afghanistan.

Both young men were honored for making the ultimate sacrifice for their nation and willingness to stand up for others during Friday’s Memorial Game in the Southridge stadium. The pre-game ceremony marked the beginning of a new tradition at the South Beaverton school.

Each year the Skyhawks will host a Memorial Game honoring their fallen hero and also pay tribute to military veterans from the opposing team’s alma mater. The game serves as a reminder of the men and women of the military who are in harm’s way and recognizes the sacrifices made by veterans and their TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Marissa Jones writes a message on a balloon to her fiancé, U.S. Army Pfc. Andrew J. Keller, before the Memorial Game between Southridge and Beaverton. It's been more than 13 months since her high school sweetheart was killed in action while leading his Army unit in Afghanistan.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Southridge High School cheerleader Taylor Chapman walks in the stands and sells balloons to help raise money for the school's Community Plaza Project.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Todd Allen, his 14-year-old daughter Ava and wife Sophia try to keep warm prior to the special pre-game ceremony and kickoff.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Marty Hawkins, who went to school with Jeff and Kim Keller, buys a T-shirt in honor of their son Andrew. Proceeds from the shirts will benefit the creation of a Community Plaza project at Southridge High School.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Boy Scouts placed 250 American flags around the stadium's perimeter for the patriotic tribute to veterans and their families.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Keenan Jones shares memories of his friend Pfc. Andrew J. Keller during the Memorial Game's patriotic pre-game ceremony.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Capt. Tyler Eikenberry, a member of the Oregon National Guard, thanks the Southridge High School community for remembering his friend, Sgt. Damien T. Ficek, a 1996 Beaverton High graduate, who died in combat in 2004.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Members of a military honor guard fire a salute in honor of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States. Two local soldiers were honored Friday during a Memorial Game at Southridge High School - the Skyhawks' Pfc. Andrew J. Keller and the Beaverton High School Beavers' Sgt. Damien T. Ficek.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Derek Keller tracks the flight of balloons released by the crowd at the conclusion of a special pre-game ceremony honoring his older brother Andrew, who was killed in combat Aug. 15, 2012, while serving in Afghanistan.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Not even the blustery weather could dampen the spirits of the crowd as they gathered Friday night for the Memorial Game between Beaverton and Southridge High School.

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