CORBETT -- Ask friends of 1989 Corbett High School graduate Jeff Lucas and they'll tell you -- the fallen war veteran knew he was going to be a Navy SEAL, even when he was in grade school.

When you're a kid you just don't know things like that, said Lucas' childhood friend, James Sorensen. That's the huge difference between somebody like Jeff and the rest of us . . . the difference between good and great.

Lucas fulfilled his childhood dream and then some, being honored in 2004 as Navy SEAL of the Year.

But before Lucas was a war hero, the former tailback was a football hero at Corbett High School.

On Saturday, his community honored both facets of his heroism at the school's first game of the season, the first ever played at the Jeff Lucas Memorial Veterans Stadium.

Before the game, Lucas' son, Seth, christened the stands. He was just 4-years old when his father was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Dad was just 33.

To achieve what he had achieved, going into the Navy, becoming a SEAL, literally becoming the best of the best ... it takes a special kind of talent, said Sorensen, who came up with the idea of building a stadium to honor Lucas.

I think he would think this was really cool, he said.

Lucas' mother, Pat, agreed.

I went back to Arlington (National Cemetery) in July and sat at his tombstone for a little bit, and it seemed like such an end to me, recalled Pat Lucas. But coming out here, it's just the beginning; a tombstone is death... this is progress, she said.

The stadium itself was a work in progress over the past five-years. The community raised more than $170,000 before breaking ground in June and worked until the night before the dedication to finish it.

Sorensen said volunteers poured their sweat and sometimes their tears into building the stands for Lucas... a man he said poured all of himself into everything he did.

It showed when he played football, recalled Sorensen. It showed in the man he was, and ultimately how he died.

Volunteers are still raising money to help pay for the stadium.

There are a number of ways to contribute funds, including purchasing a brick for the stadium's courtyard. To learn more, visit

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