By Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations
In a Friday Night football game under the lights in Clairsville, Ohio, high school star running back Michael Ferns broke away from the defense and ran freely for a touchdown. However, just one yard shy of the end zone, Ferns pulled up and walked out of bounds. As two referees signaled a touchdown one of Fern’s teammates rushed up and argued that he had not scored. As the stadium looked on in confusion, his teammates and coaches knew exactly what was going on.
Before the game, the coach of St. Clairsville High, Brett McLean, had given some of his top players, including Ferns, some rare coaching advice. He asked them to stop just short of the end zone if the right opportunity arose. Ferns saw the chance and did exactly as his coach instructed. With the perfect scoring opportunity now set up, McLean put freshman varsity player, Logan Thompson in.
Why did the coach and players set this up? Just 2 days before the game, Thompson’s Dad passed away from a sudden stroke. But even with his life flipped upside down, Thompson suited up with the rest of the team for that Friday night game against their rival school. With Ferns now at fullback, Thompson was able to find a gap in the defense and a spot in the end zone.
Thompson’s touchdown was more than just points on the scoreboard. For him it meant more than his team could imagine, and for the team and coaches it was a gesture of support, a way to help a grieving teammate honor his dad. In an interview with USA Today, Coach McLean said, “Last Friday was something that touched the whole team. Logan was going through so much and for a few minutes we helped him get his mind off of things. It honored his dad. It was just an awesome moment.”
The press always covers teams’ statistical leaders and coaches with impressive records, but it’s moments like this that give leadership in sports another meaning. That Friday night the St. Clairsville High football coaches and stars put their own stats aside to help a teammate. This game was about more than just football, it was about supporting a teammate and impacting a life.