Jason Smith Jr., a fourth-grade student from Prague, Oklahoma, is arguably the most enthusiastic supporter of the Prague Red Devils. He’s been an assistant coach for the Deep Fork Valley Football League team since he was in first grade. Unfortunately, Jason is unable to play the sport he is so devoted to because he has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) … until one fateful night!
Although his father is the team’s head coach, and his twin brother Jalen plays on the team, Jason has never had the opportunity to play. Jason’s passion has not been stronger than his DMD, which causes progressive weakening of the muscles, and a few months ago, he lost his ability to walk entirely.
“He’s never been able to run or jump or do things that the other kids do, so that didn’t allow him to play football,” Jason’s mother said.
Nick Loman, a referee who had often watched Jason on the sidelines calling plays, had an idea at a recent game where the Red Devils were playing against the Shawnee Wolves. The play-off game was important, as both teams were at risk of having their season end.
“He had seen Jason different times at so many different ballgames, and this time he just came up to my husband with the idea to put Jason in the game,” added Jason’s mom.
With 10 seconds left in the game, and both coaches agreeing, Jason got to play.
“You’re in, bud,” the head coach told his son.
They suited him up with his brother’s helmet and put him on the field. Jason was able to carry out the play that he would have called out from the sidelines. He carried the football towards the end zone, and his good friend Andrew pushed him over the goal line. Even the team’s opposing players joined him in celebrating his feat.
“In the video you can hear Jason Jr. say, ‘They actually counted it?'” said Jason’s mom. “He’s smart, and he knows the game, so they were all very excited that he counted it. We even got up the next day and checked online to see if they had really counted it, and they did, so he was very excited.”
When he realized what he did, Jason grinned from ear to ear.
The Red Devils were down 12 points when they put Jason on the field, and the team lost 14 to 20, but Jason’s accomplishment left the team with plenty to celebrate.
“They didn’t even care about the loss,” Jason’s dad said of the team that the two have coached together for the last four years. “They were happy they got to do that with Jason. The boys would pretty much do anything for him.”
Watch the awesome, up-close video of Jason’s fantastic touchdown, along with players from both teams celebrating with him!