- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

SHELBINA, Mo. (AP) - A lopsided high school football game in northern Missouri united two rivals who agreed in advance to make the playoff a memorable one for a 14-year-old freshman reserve with Down syndrome.

South Shelby High shut out winless North Shelby High 53-0 on Friday night. The Quincy Herald-Whig (bit.ly/1zdECdM) reported that North Shelby senior Jacob Rich approached South Shelby coach Rob Wilt before the Class 1 playoff game to discuss allowing Wilt’s son Drew to score a touchdown.

“He kind of looked at me funny,” Rich said of the opposing coach’s initial reaction.

Drew Wilt scored on a 17-yard run off right tackle after his team had staked out a 39-0 halftime lead.

“We include him in everything,” said South Shelby lineman Sidney Wear, whose blocking helped lead Wilt into the end zone. “He’s one of us.”

Wear said the team was touched by their opponents’ kind-hearted gesture.

“It struck us hard,” he said. “The scoreboard didn’t matter. Winning or losing didn’t matter. This was bigger than football.”

Rich had previously discussed his plan with Raiders coach Todd Cripe as well as his junior and senior teammates. He told his younger teammates about the decision during pregame warm-ups.

Rob Wilt said he fought back tears on the sideline watching his son get congratulatory pats on the helmet from opponents and hugs from his teammates.

“I was smiling,” Rob Wilt said. “Inside, I was having to fight it. But when he smiles, you can’t help but smile, too.”

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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