ST. JOSEPH — Matt Ziesel doesn't stray far from coach Dan McCamy on the sidelines during St. Joseph Benton High School's freshman football games. He likes to stay within earshot.
"I'm ready, Coach. … Coach, I'm ready," Ziesel says.McCamy says he hears it about 10 times a game, and also at practices, from Ziesel, his 5-foot-3, 110-pound running back.
So in the final stages of Benton's third game of the season on Monday at Maryville, McCamy decided it was time for Ziesel — a 15-year-old freshman with Down syndrome — to make his season debut.
With about 10 seconds left in the game, and Benton trailing 46-0, McCamy called his final timeout, told an assistant coach to organize the team for the "Matt play" and ran across the field to the Maryville defensive huddle — and to some puzzled looks from the opposing players.
"I've got a special situation," McCamy remembers telling Maryville freshman defensive coach David McEnaney. "I know you guys want to get a shutout. Most teams would want a shutout, but in this situation I want to know if maybe you can let one of my guys run in for a touchdown."
Several days have passed since Ziesel chugged more than 60 yards down a sideline for his first high school touchdown — but the buzz hasn't.
The YouTube clip McCamy posted Tuesday morning had received more than 1,500 hits as of Thursday night. The e-mails and messages of support also have been rolling in all week — to McCamy as well as the Ziesel family.
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