Michigan HS football team helps opposing student with special needs score memorable TD

Nick King/Lansing State Journal

Michigan HS football team helps opposing student with special needs score memorable TD

Football

Michigan HS football team helps opposing student with special needs score memorable TD

Gary Houghton was immediately on board.

When the Mason football coach was approached prior to Friday’s contest with a request to help create a special moment for Muskegon Orchard View senior Fletcher Payne, who is a special needs student and has autism, he was all about finding a way to make it happen.

Houghton remembered four years ago when DeWitt helped create a special moment and let Mason’s Jay Granger, who has autism, score a touchdown.

He thought that was one of the coolest moments he had been a part of in his coaching career and definitely wanted to do the same for someone else.

So the Bulldogs reached an agreement with Orchard View to play an untimed down after wrapping up their 28-6 victory on the road. And on that play, Payne ran 90-plus yards for a touchdown with players from both teams joining him on the trip and then celebrating the moment in the end zone. Players that were standing on the sideline when the play began even made their way onto the field.

“The kids were really excited about that, and I thought it was an awesome thing to be a part of,” said Houghton, who is in his second season leading the Bulldogs.

“When we got an opportunity to do it, I jumped on it. I knew this could be good for our kids. It was going to be good for this young man and good for their community. With those types of things, everybody wins.”

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Michigan HS football team helps opposing student with special needs score memorable TD
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