HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The gridiron matchup between East Kentwood and Hudsonville on Friday will take a back seat to a bigger event happening off the field.

The Sept. 8 game at Eagle Stadium will be Military Appreciation Night. The theme was created by Hudsonville senior Colten Hansen who told News 8 that he wanted to have the community show their support for those who served.

“I’m hoping for the huge turnout. But more specifically I’m just hoping for the community to get behind the veterans and just really the whole community show their appreciation,” Hansen said. “And even if it’s just one veteran that’s there, the whole community can get behind them.”

Hansen’s father served in the military, which led him to deeply appreciate veterans. He started to get the ball rolling on the event his freshman year after spending time with the veterans who frequent the YMCA in Grandville where Hansen works.

“I see a lot of veterans there, like old veterans, and just knowing that the great appreciation that they would get from it,” Hansen said. “And I feel like as a senior I finally have the say. I had the say before but I feel like as a senior I have really influenced the program.”

Now a senior, Hansen got with his coach, Brent Sandee, to work with the athletic department to make sure it happened this year. Sandee said that all of the credit goes to Hansen for getting it started.

“He’s a kid that is a mover and shaker and when he wants to get something done, he puts his mind to it and it happens,” Sandee said.

The plan for the event includes veterans in attendance being honored on the field before the game, the student section rocking specialty T-shirts, donations being taken up and the Georgetown Fire Department hoisting the American flag above the entrance. Hansen also extended an invitation to veterans on East Kentwood’s side to provide them with the chance to be honored.

“It’s not just a Hudsonville thing, I feel like it can be for both teams together,” Hansen said.

“We understand that high school football has a platform for communities and to do something that’s bigger than the both of us,” Sandee said.

While he hopes for a large turnout, Hansen also said that he would be at a loss for words if the stands were jam-packed on Friday night.

“I feel like I’d be a little overwhelmed because my small idea actually turned into something really big,” he said.

The matchup is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Eagle Stadium this Friday. All military personnel will gain free entrance to the game.