This story is from 9 years ago in McDermott, Ohio. You may remember reading about these events at the time. Jake Porter entered this world suffering from chromosomal fragile-X syndrome. Jake was a special needs student. He could not read and could barely scratch-out his name with a pencil. Jake loved football and he faithfully attended every practice at Northwest High.
Jake’s third year at Northwest, his coach, Dave Franz wanted to do something special for Jake. Early in the week they were to play Waverly in the fall of 2002, Frantz called head coach Derek Dewitt and suggested that both teams allow Jake to run one play at the end of the game, assuming that the game would not be on the line. They planned for Jake to get the ball and take a knee to end the game. Dewitt agreed.
On game day with just a few seconds on the clock, Waverly was in the lead 42 – 0. Frantz called a timeout. Jake ran out to the huddle as the two coaches met midfield. Here is how Sport’s Illustrated writer Rick Reilly tells the story:
“Fans could see there was a disagreement. Dewitt was shaking his head and waving his arms.
After a ref stepped in, play resumed and Jake got the ball. He started to genuflect, as he’d practiced all week. Teammates stopped him and told him to run, but Jake started going in the wrong direction. The back judge rerouted him toward the line of scrimmage.
Suddenly, the Waverly defense parted like peasants for the king and urged him to go on his grinning sprint to the end zone. Imagine having 21 teammates on the field. In the stands mothers cried and fathers roared. Players on both sidelines held their helmets to the sky and whooped.
Turns out that before the play Dewitt had called his defense over and said, “They’re going to give the ball to number 45. Do not touch him! Open up a hole and let him score! Understand?”” (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/rick_reilly/news/2002/11/12/life_of_reilly/)
Apparently during the argument midfield between Franz and Dewitt, Franz reminded Dewitt of the plan for Jake to take a knee, but Dewitt insisted that his team was going to allow a touch down. He told Jake’s coach, “I want him to score!”
When I think of the unselfish nature of Dewitt not getting the shut-out, I am reminded of a verse that we as Christians need to learn to put into practice the way Derek Dewitt and the team from Waverly did, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4).
Here is a video of Jake’s touchdown: