Sepp Shirey always wanted to be one of the neighborhood gang when he was little. If there was a football game going on in someone's front yard, he was there.
One day, Shirey, who has cerebral palsy, joined in the game. It immediately stopped play.
Not because of fear, but because of an impromptu celebration which saw the players race to the Shirey household to pound on the front door to tell the rest of his family to come out and see what was happening.
"We're playing football in the yard, and I got tired of dragging the walker over the bumps of grass and stuff," Sepp said when we interviewed him for the December 29, 2016 edition of The Herald Progress. "I just left my walker. Nothing else would have piqued my interest to do that."
Sepp's football career was underway, and it didn't stop as he grew up. Our first encounter with Shirey was Atlee football's first practice before the 2016 season, running drills with his teammates using his walker. No one was more committed to the Raider program than Shirey.
Fast forward to the 2017 season. Shirey had seen in-game action on multiple occasions. On October 27, Sepp's Senior Night, he entered the game in the fourth quarter of what would be a disappointing loss to a playoff Varina team. Shirey had no idea that he was about to go viral.
On a handoff to Shirey, he began running up the middle of the field. Soon, not only were his teammates running with him, so was the Varina defense. The crowd began to react and come to their feet. Shirey would run 80 yards to the end zone, scoring a touchdown in his final game at home. Before the night was over, the courage of Sepp Shirey, coupled with the great sportsmanship of the Varina Blue Devils, was shown not just in Richmond on NBC12's "On The Sidelines", but began to be seen around the world.
To see NBC12's Marc Davis with a great report and commentary about the play, and to see the play itself, CLICK HERE.
To read a portion of our 2016 interview with Shirey, CLICK HERE.
Now headed to the University of Alabama, where he will no doubt make his mark again, we will not soon forget Shirey's fighting spirit, commitment to excellence, and the shining example he gives to everyone who deals with a disability day in and day out.
A moment that was a decade plus in the making, The Sepp Shirey Touchdown, the number one moment of 2017-18. It combined courage, teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect. And that is why we have high school sports.
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