Nov 8, 2013 12:41 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI - Michael Gonzales is an extraordinary 8th grader at Taft Middle School. He loves football and loves his school's team.
He's been team manager for years. Because he's done so much for them, the players returned the favor Thursday night.
Michael thinks of himself as just one of the guys. But two years ago, he was diagnosed with a form of autism. Every summer when tryouts come around, he begs his parents to let him join the football team.
"I gotta tell him, ‘They're not going to allow you, baby,'" Michael's mother, Olga Gonzales, explains. "'Remember how I told you you're so special. We have to take care of you, can't let anything happen to you. Because you're so special, we can't do that.'"
After 3 years supporting the Taft Greyhounds from the sidelines, Michael got the chance of a lifetime. He suited up with the rest of the guys in their game against Hebronville.
"I didn't think I was ever gonna see him on the field or suited up ... never thought he was gonna have the chance," Raul Gonzalez said about his son.
Olga Gonzalez added, "My son and husband were like, ‘He looks like he could play like he could be a real player.'"
On Thursday night, he was. Wearing #89, Michael hit the field as part of the starting lineup. The coaches designed a play just for him - a sweep right. He dodged a tough defense and made it into the end zone.
Michael said it was "awesome" to hear everyone cheering for him. When he was asked what he wanted to say to everyone who made his big play possible, he said, "I love you!"
Banners with Michael's name and number draped the fences. The crowd was wearing t-shirts just for Michael, celebrating right along with him as he lived out his dream.
The team lost to Hebronville by just two points. But the players took home a win that cannot be measured by points on the scoreboard.