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Winning scratch-off ticket worth $2,000 helps pay for Champagnat's bus ride to state football finals

ORLANDO -- Finding creative ways to pay athletic bills comes with the territory when you are a small private school.

The winning scratch off ticket.When the football budget ran out at the end of the regular season for unbeaten Champagnat Catholic, athletic director Isabel Alonso went to work with candy fundraisers and other such events. Parents even helped by selling sponsorships. Still, it hasn't been enough.

Then last week, on their way to a state semifinal game at Indian Rocks Christian near Tampa, Alonso decided to use a $20 bill of her own money on a few scratch-off tickets when the team made a stop at a gas station.

"When I got back to the bus I told the kids, 'Guess what! We've got a bus ride to Orlando next week!" Alonso said.

Alonso won $2,000 and cashed the ticket in this week to help pay for the team's bus ride to and from The Citrus Bowl. The Lions (13-0) take on Lakeland Victory Christian (10-3) in the Class 2A state title game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

"God has really put great things in our path," Alonso said. "[Wednesday morning] a team parent [Mildred Aparcio] showed up with exactly the amount of money we needed for the hotel. It's definitely in God's plan for us to be there."

The Lions have four FBS college commitments including defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a University of Miami commitment. 

-- MANNY NAVARRO

I wrote a more comprehensive story on Champagnat and how the team has overcome several hurdles to get to state this year. Read about it in Friday's Miami Herald.

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