Bantam League tradition: Center Grove program honors military with annual event

Every one of the games at the Center Grove Bantam Football League fields on Saturday will carry the same theme.

This is by design.

Military Day is a much-anticipated tip of the cap to the men and women who are either presently serving military service or have previously served.

Only the teams representing Army and Navy will play in the league’s three age divisions — Rookie League (grades 1 and 2), Minor Division (grades 3 and 4) and Majors (grades 5 and 6).

The league conducted a Military Day for years, but there was a hiatus before Mike Dahl, part of the league’s board of directors, brought it back in 2014.

“It shows appreciation for our active duty military and for our veterans,” said Dahl, who served six years (1991-97) in the U.S. Navy. “It teaches the boys and girls about the sacrifices the men and women in our military make.

“There are a few hundred people who come out to watch these games. For me, seeing the kids thank the veterans is just awesome.”

Dahl, who graduated from Perry Meridian High School in 1988 with former Bantam League president Aaron Hohlt, is from a family with strong military lineage.

His great-great-grandfather, Armon Dahl, was in the Army in the first half of the 20th century. Later on, Mike Dahl’s father, Gary, was stateside as a general’s aide during the Vietnam War.

An uncle, Ronnie Dahl, was in the Navy, and Eugene Dahl, Mike’s grandfather, was part of the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War.

Center Grove High School football coach Eric Moore, whose players wear camouflage jerseys for one home game each season, is always on board when it comes to paying tribute to those representing this country’s military.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to pay tribute, and also develops character and respect for the military,” Moore said. “Too many people in our country don’t understand what the military really stands for.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the kids to learn a little bit about the military while honoring them at our great Bantam complex.”

If you go

What: Military Day

When: Saturday

Where: Center Grove Bantam Football League Complex, 5185 W. County Road 144, Bargersville)

Games: Army-Navy, 10 a.m. (Rookie League); 11:30 a.m. (Majors); 1 p.m. (Minor Division)

Admission: Free for all ages

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at