PAOLA — Samuel “Sammy” Roberts ended his prep football career for the Ottawa Cyclones with a 94-yard touchdown against the Paola Panthers.
Sammy is a four-year member of the Ottawa football program.
He was unable to play his freshman season due to an injury.
During the summer weight training and conditioning, Sammy did not miss a single day.
Near the end of the fourth quarter, the Ottawa Cyclones sent Sammy onto the field for a chance to make one of his dreams come true.
He had never scored a touchdown.
Ottawa had a play designed just for Sammy.
“We went over the play (14 Belly) to make sure he knew what to do, and the rest is history,” Ottawa coach Rob Hedrick said. “We’ve wanted to get Sammy a touchdown all season.
“He works so hard and enjoys football so much we thought it would be a great reward for his dedication to the team and program,” Hedrick said.
Sammy was dealt a tough blow when he was in eighth grade, suffering a brain injury that left him with a high functioning form of autism.
“He breaks through the secondary, across midfield to the 30, the 20, the 15, the 5, touchdown,” said public address annoncer Jeff Hines.
It was a moment the Ottawa football family and others in attendance will never forget, Hedrick said.
“I doubt if Sammy has stopped smiling yet,” he said. “It’s definitely a feel-good situation. It’s a great reminder to me how fortunate we are to be involved with football, youth and sports.”
As he broke away from the Panther defense, the Paola Rat Pack student section started chanting his name “Samuel Roberts, Samuel Roberts, Samuel Roberts.”
“We sometimes lose sight of the positive impact our sport has on the young men participating in it,” Paola coach Michael Dumpert said. “We get caught up in the win-loss aspect only. It was a beautiful moment.”