By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Wolfpack Junior Football Team, made up of kids from the South and West sides, has a chance to compete for a national championship in Florida — but they need money to make the trip. And time is running out.

On Sunday, Coach Ernest Radcliffe led his players not on the football field but at 87th and the Dan Ryan. The players, helmets in hand, are trying to raise money for what they hope will be the trip of a lifetime.

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“It’s important for us to give our young people an opportunity to see something different,” Radcliffe said.

This year CBS 2 has shared the story of Ernest Radcliffe, who at any given time coaches and mentors 400 boys through his football and baseball programs. His work caught the attention of former President Barack Obama, who praised Radcliffe’s demand for excellence on the field and in the classroom. Countless players have earned college scholarships and resisted the city’s dangers.

Now Radcliffe is asking for help. His junior football team just won an Illinois state title and the regional playoffs. Now they’re set to complete for the national championship in Florida.

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“Eight different regions coming down so we’ll be playing against teams from all over the country,” he said.

But the boys need money for travel and boarding expenses — $30,000. The money is due on Wednesday.

And so Ernest Radcliffe and his players are collecting every dollar they can. It is a hail mary pass.

“We have an outstanding organization, and it’s my responsibility along with all my coaches, parents and my wife to make sure we give our young people down to the Florida,” Radcliffe said.

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Sunday, businessman Early Walker said he’d lead efforts to raise funds for the kids. But time is running out. The team has a GoFundMe page to help raise funds here.