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Former local football star hopes to bring back title Sunday

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The showdown in Miami might not include a local team Sunday, but Michiana will still be represented.

Inside the Dieter household in South Bend is Derek Dieter, proud father of Chiefs wide receiver Gehrig Dieter – named after the Yankees’ hall of famer.

Dieter looks at the photos of Gehrig’s Indiana high school football championship victory inside his son’s old room.

“It’s incredible,” Dieter says.

“Once you look back at pictures and memories of the kid who started with a Nerf ball on Portage Avenue when he was two years old, to where he’s at now. You can’t write a script like that.”

A middle child of five, Gehrig was a local star athlete, from Pop Warner football to starring at Washington High School.

“He’s never forgotten his roots because when he grew up - when I was coaching inner city kids, since they were three and four years old, they would go play (outside),” Dieter says.

Gehrig Dieter would go on to win multiple championships in college as well: the Mid-American Conference title at Bowling Green alongside his brother, Nolan Ryan Dieter (yes, named after that Nolan Ryan), and then a Southeastern Conference crown at Alabama as a graduate transfer.

“It’s something he’s worked his entire life to do and his mind has been locked in for all of his life,” Dieter says.

This season, Dieter has helped the Chiefs to their first shot at a title in 50 years by contributing on both the active roster and practice squad.

The wide receiver’s dad credits the success to relentless hard work, but also fun.

“To kids, never give up your dream,” Dieter says.

“He’s had this dream since he was a little boy and he’s living it, so if there is a moral, never give up on what you want to do, and live your dreams out.”

Due to the NFL’s strict media rules during preparation for Sunday’s game, ABC 57 wasn’t able to speak with Gehrig, but it’s clear that this family - and the South Bend community itself - will be cheering on the team with their own.

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