The first time a high school football player gets on the field for his first game is a special moment. His first touchdown—even more memorable.
But for one high school teen with cerebral palsy, words cannot express how special and momentous his first time under the “Friday Night Lights” was for him, his teammates and the community.
Taking the field for the first time
PJ Allred, a senior at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri, has been on the football team since his freshman year, but this was his first time to take the field.
“He has practiced every day, lifted weights all summer, and attended summer 7-on-7 sessions and team camps. He has been a full participant in the program,” head coach Charles McFail wrote in an email to USA Today High School Sports.
At Friday night’s game against Hickman, the senior began his night on the field by running the flag out of the tunnel with his team.
PJ was also chosen as captain of the football team on that particular Friday night, but these highlights weren’t even the best parts of PJ’s night.
Running an 80-yard touchdown
Towards the end of the game, PJ ran an 80-yard touchdown, the team’s only touchdown for the night, diving into the endzone. He was celebrated by both his teammates and Hickman’s.
Coach McFail said that PJ’s participation in the game was a spontaneous decision that night.
“We did not have a plan for him to get into the game, it just came up in the moment,” said Coach McFail.
Football is not the only sport that PJ participated in. He also played baseball, soccer, basketball and participated in track throughout his school career.
McFail coached him throughout high school football and weightlifting, and was his coach in junior high for baseball.
His coach ended with this heartwarming comment:
“He wants to be a great athlete like everyone else but his body will not let him have the physical success that he desires. His heart and attitude, though, have set the gold level standard for all that he is involved with.”