The game may have been over, but there was still a final play to run.
Rhinelander High School’s freshman football team already lost its game against rival Mosinee, but what they did after the game ended will be remembered far longer than any loss.
Gabe White, an 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was Rhinelander’s honorary team captain. His older brother Owen plays on the squad. Gabe was on the sidelines all season.
WJFW Wisconsin reports Rhinelander’s coach wanted to give Gabe a moment he would never forget.
“I wanted to make a special moment for him. [He’s a] special kid. All you have to do is hang out with him for 30 seconds and you see that,” said Coach Mark Apfel.
Mosinee’s freshman football team played along as best they could.
With the football spinning end over end in the air after a kickoff, the two White brothers were back to receive the kick.
The ball sailed over the head of Gabe, but Owen was able to knock it down.
Gabe picked the ball up and headed for the sidelines, dodging Mosinee defenders every step of the way. On his way up the sideline, Mosinee players would intentionally dive in an attempt to “tackle” Gabe as he passed, unable to bring him down.
Gabe sauntered into the end zone for a touchdown and was mobbed by his teammates.
It was a touching reminder of all the good sports can do.