Ryan Brophy and Bryce Lightner are retreating to the bench this weekend when the Quad City Steamwheelers open the playoffs.
However, the Davenport West graduates are more than happy to reclaim backup roles with the local Champions Indoor Football team after sharing a moment in the spotlight at last weekend's regular-season finale at the TaxSlayer Center.
Brophy served as an honorary captain while starting on an all-local offensive line, and Lightner rushed for a touchdown while seeing two-plus quarters of action at quarterback during an 86-6 steamrolling of the visiting Texas Power.
"Just getting to be a part of this team has been a phenomenal experience," said Lightner, who teaches now at his alma mater. "But making it even more awesome was getting to play in front of the hometown fans."
For Brophy, the game snaps were the end of a whirlwind pair of weekends. The local parole officer was briefly released by the Steamwheelers, so he could log emergency duty the previous Saturday for nearby Cedar Rapids of the rival Indoor Football League.
"The best part of the entire experience was getting to start on a line with Julian (Vandervelde) and Maurice (Harris)," said Brophy, who joined the Davenport Central grads up front to give regular starter Ryan Bubulka a night off.
"Maurice and I played semi-pro together with the Raiders and Wolfpack. Julian and I played YMCA basketball in kindergarten and played against each other in high school.
"Being flanked by two of the best linemen to ever come out of the Quad-Cities in my lifetime during a Steamwheelers game was pretty surreal. You probably won't see a pro arena team have three local guys starting in the same game on the same offensive line like that. Shoot, Cedar Rapids didn't have one guy from Iowa on the team except for me."
The start also marked Brophy's first significant action of the season. Previously, he'd seen time in a rotation during Q-C's preseason game in late February, then dressed but played sparingly in the CIF-opener in mid-March, a close loss at this weekend's host, Sioux City.
"It was certainly worth the wait," Brophy said. "It's been a long six months mixing a full-time job with full-time football. This was the payoff, and it was everything I could have imagined and more.
"It was great to play in front of my family again, especially my dad. We went to these games together back in 2000 when I was a sixth grader. So it was pretty cool to have him watch me wearing my jersey.
"And, I'm not going to lie, I darn near teared up when Coach (Cory) Ross made me an honorary captain before the game."
While the action proved exceptional to Brophy, the game snaps were essential for Lightner to help knock off any rust and prepare Q-C's backup QB in case something happens to starter E.J. Hilliard in the postseason.
"Rushing for a touchdown was a thrill, but getting to throw the ball again in a real game was probably the biggest thing," said Lightner, who hit 3-of-6 passes for 55 yards and no scores.
Previously, Lightner played only a couple of emergency snaps in a loss at Omaha, getting sacked for an 8-yard loss when Hilliard was receiving medical treatment on the sidelines for a leg injury.
Lightner only was a security blanket April 19-May 3, before re-signing last weekend after the Steamwheelers went a month without a dedicated backup, choosing instead to work on a "Wildcat" formation featuring running back Tyler Williams, a former option QB.
"Moving forward, I just hope to keep learning and developing and helping these guys out any way I can," Lightner said. "It'd be fun if we made a run at the title this year. This is such a great group of guys. There is so much ability. Just getting a second chance to play with these guys is so awesome."