Going into the final game of their football season, Petaluma High School had a record of just 2 wins and 7 losses. "It was a tough season," Coach Rick Krist said.
So, how was Krist able, with just a single play, to turn the Trojans losing record into a winning season? He simply called the right play for the right player.
"We ran Flex-25-Draw," Krist said, "and he was the draw."
"He" is 17-year-old Petaluma senior Aidan Spillane, the team's water boy for the past four years. The special play was called for Aidan, who lives with Cerebral Palsy, at the end of Petaluma's rivalry game (The Egg Bowl) against Casa Grande High School.
With both teams on the field, Aidan was handed the ball and ran, untouched, into the endzone where he and his teammates celebrated. "If you watch the video you can see he does a small hop in the endzone," Brett Spillane, Aidan's father, said. "If you know Aidan, that shows just how excited he was."
Aidan's Cerebral Palsy limits not just his mobility but his speech as well. In spite of those challenges, Aidan never missed a single practice or a game for either the varsity or junior varsity football teams.
"He embodies everything that as a coach you want your program to be. Commitment, dedication and he's a good teammate," Krist said.
As a reward for his years of dedicated service, Krist orchestrated the situation where, after the end of the Casa Grande game, a uniformed Aidan would be handed the ball and run for a touchdown.
Krist informed Aidan of his upcoming star-turn in front of the team one day before a practice. "He just looked at his dad and kind of pumped his fist a couple times and he was flying high for the rest of the practice."
Brett Spillain says Aidan's love for football began at the age of 6, when he began taking Aidan to Petaluma High School games. When Aidan was old enough to attend the school, Brett had a question for Coach Krist. "I called coach and said, 'Is there any way you can get Aidan somehow involved in the team in any capacity?' Coach said absolutely. I would love to maybe make him the water boy."
Brett says watching and working football games together has given he and Aidan some of their best times together. To watch him put on a uniform and take the field was overwhelming to Brett. "I'm not a cryer by nature," Brett said, "but, yeah, I broke down in tears."