They have been written about in Sports Illustrated.
A video of their story has appeared on CBS News and can be viewed on YouTube.
Now the Olivet eighth-grade team from the Mid-Michigan Pony Football League will be presented with Junior Phenom certificates just before tip-off of tonight’s Harlem Globetrotters basketball game at 7:30 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
The team is being honored for a play in the third quarter of an Oct. 5 game in which Olivet was leading 34-6 over Eaton Rapids. It occurred right after 13-year-old running back Sheridan Hedrick slid down at the 1-yard line rather than complete a 17-yard run for a touchdown.
“I was up in the press box doing the announcing, watching him slide on a knee with no one around,” said George Shook, who coordinates Olivet’s teams in the league and whose 21-year-old son Josh coached the team along with Tim Jungel.
“Some people started booing, but when I saw the kids — and once they grabbed Keith (Orr) — I had a feeling. I knew something was up.”
Hedrick — the originator of idea — and quarterback Parker Smith sprinted toward the sideline and yelled to coach Jungel that “we need Keith,” according to the Dec. 23 Sports Illustrated story.
Orr, a 4-foot-11, 95-pound seldom-used player who battles learning disabilities, received the handoff on the next play with teammates surrounding him and ran the ball into the end zone for his first ever TD.
“The kids did it for themselves,” Shook said. “The coaches didn’t do it or tell them to do it.”
Smith confirmed that in the video that appeared in CBS News’ “On the Road With Steve Hartman” segment.
“We were like going behind their (the coaches’) back. We thought it would be cool to do something for him,” Smith said.
“Us kids knew ‘this is our time. This is Keith’s time’.”
Orr said it was “awesome” later in the video.
“He (Smith) is not just a good quarterback, ethically he’s a good kid,” Shook said of Smith. “Gabe Moore (who also ispictured in the video hugging Orr) is one of the biggest lineman and an all-around great kid.
“This is just what our league stands for, because we want to teach football and ethics. We don’t cut any kids.”
The crowd, coaches and players after the play “erupted in such jubilation than an official told Jungel, ‘don’t worry about a delay of game penalty. Enjoy this’,” Dan Green wrote in Sports Illustrated.
The video concludes with wide receiver Justice Miller’s touching change of perspective as a result of the play.
“He (Orr) has never been, like, cool or popular,” Miller told Hartman on the video. “He went from being like pretty much a nobody to making everyone’s day. I would have not really thought about that. I kind of went from someone who mostly cared about myself and my friends to caring about everyone, and trying to make everyone’s day and everyone’s life.”
Shook said it was “cool that Olivet got noticed.”
“It made running the football league the last 12 years with my wife all worth it just watching this,” he said.