PERKINS TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) — Zacchaeus Gamblin, known as “Z Man,” is number 64 on the roster for Perkins Pirates 8th grade football team, but the special needs student is considered number one when it comes to heart and spirit.
When asked what his teammates mean to him, Zacchaeus told Fox 8 “they’re like friends and family.”
“We all love Z Man, he’s like the symbol of our team, he holds us all together,” said his friend and teammate Dylan Crabtree.
As a reward for the hard work and dedication that Zacchaeus has shown throughout the season, his coach decided to make the dream of every lineman come true by giving him a chance to carry the ball.
With time running down and Perkins ahead on the road at archrival Clyde 20 to 8, Zacchaeus did not disappoint, carrying the ball 34-yards for a touchdown, setting off an emotional celebration by both teams.
“I felt a little bit nervous, and a little bit scared that I was going to get tackled by all those people,” said Zacchaeus.
Just before the touchdown run, during a timeout, the Perkins coach approached the Clyde coach and told him about Zacchaeus and the specially designed play for number 64.
“Would you mind letting Z Man run the ball, without hesitation, all the credit goes to the Clyde coach, without hesitation, he said ‘sure,’ didn’t even think twice about it, didn’t worry about the score or anything else,” said Perkins Coach Andrew Hoch.
Perkins Coach Blayze Behney says he then had an unusual conversation with Defensive Coordinator Ron Moore.
“Hey Ron, we’re going to let them score, he goes ‘what’, I go ‘we’re going to let them score,’ he goes ‘why’,” he said.
Coach Behney says he knew about the importance of Zacchaeus’ run for a touchdown, because he is also a special needs teacher at McPherson Middle School in Clyde.
The Clyde players are accustomed to tough, hard hitting games with Perkins, but then their coach told them about Zacchaeus Gamblin.
“The kids go, ‘how can we help him’ and that’s what really gets me going still, they’re like, rather than say no, no, they’re like ‘what can we do to help?’”
Zacchaeus’ coach says what happened that night shows that football is about much more than just numbers on a scoreboard, it’s about sportsmanship and class.
As for Zacchaeus, he told us the touchdown was “joyful for me, and happiness.”
Video of Z Man’s touchdown run has now gone viral on the web.
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