Byron special needs player scores

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Ryan Keller all smiles after the game

Connor Walsh, Co-Sports Editor

     In the final seconds of the Belvidere North freshman football game, Byron’s head coach called a timeout.  With his team down 13-0, and with little time on the clock, he had a special request.  He wanted to hand the ball off to running back Ryan Keller, a student with special needs.

     “With a little less than a minute on the clock they called a timeout, and their coach came over to talk to me,” said Coach Jim Paddock, “He explained that they had a player with special needs on the team, and they wanted to get him into the game.”

     When Paddock explained to the team what was about to happen, they were more than willing to make this a special moment.

     “The guys were all for it, they were really eager to make sure this would be something that nobody on the field would forget,” said Paddock.

     With six seconds left on the clock, and everyone in the crowd on their feet, Byron handed the ball off to Keller, who with North defenders diving and missing at him ran all the way down the field for a 60 yard touchdown.

     “Everyone did a great job of making sure that he got into the endzone,” said Paddock “It was really just an amazing moment for everyone there.”

     Both Byron’s freshman team and parents wanted to make sure that North knew that their gesture had not gone unnoticed.

     “Just want to let you know how much we appreciate the Belvidere North Freshman team.  The Belvidere North kids did a great job of missing tackles and getting blocked so he could run one in for a touchdown with seconds left on the clock. Kudos to Belvidere North. He and his family will always remember that.” said Jeff White, who runs the Byron football Facebook page.

     Paddock was proud of what his team did, knowing the impact that they had just made on an entire organization.

     “It was just one of those times that made everyone realize that they were a part of something much bigger than themselves,” said Paddock “It was definitely something that I’m never going to forget.”