‘Time of his life:’ Amherst teen with autism reflects on big moment during football game

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AMHERST, Ohio — There’s a new name in high school football that you should know.

“Every time I see a guy with the ball, quarterback or receiver, I tackle them,” said Jeremiah Taylor, Amherst Steele High School sophomore of joining Friday night’s varsity game against Westlake.

“My team was very proud and my coaches,” he said remembering the moment he made his first career tackle.

“The entire team and the stands just erupted,” said coach Mike Passarrello.

Toward the end of the third quarter, donning a No. 2 jersey, he took first place in everyone’s hearts.

“Once Jeremiah goes in everyone’s eyes are on the field,” said teammate Aidan Johnson.

“The moment was pretty big so the players were helping him get where he needed to be. And on the snap of the ball, he was able to shoot the gap and get involved in tackling the running back,” Passarello said.

As Jeremiah literally jumped for joy, his fellow Comets, including Johnson, embraced him in congratulations.

“I know that the players as a whole really protect them, they’ve taken him under their wing and make sure that he’s where he needs to be,”Passarello said.

Jeremiah is diagnosed with autism, but that isn’t holding him back.

“It doesn’t stop them you know, they’re regular people just like us,” Johnson said.

“Being on varsity that time was probably the best time of his life so far,” said his mom Jennifer Rivera.

Jeremiah’s family said he loved to watch football on TV as a kid, but now he gets to engage in the game a whole other way, by stepping on the field and helping his team to a win.

His parents and sister, Kiara, are his biggest fans and supporters. His sister went to almost all of his practices and games. But when he started football for the first time as a freshman, his parents were apprehensive at first.

“At one game, he just got pancaked. And you just heard him in the stand cracking up and we looked at each other and were like, he’s going to be fine,” said his father Jason Taylor.

Jeremiah has been more than fine.

“I like to get out of the house and play football,” he said.

“He’s a breath of fresh air every day. He always can bring a smile to your face,” Passarello said.

“Jeremiah has always been able to do things that you didn’t think he’d be able to do. He’s amazing he’s always found a way,” his father said.

“One of these days I’m gonna do 9 or 10 tackles.”

His family said they wouldn’t be surprised.

“I don’t doubt the kid. He’s a miracle.”

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