SEATTLE – We start by putting a spotlight on the best local sports moment of the week. There were a few candidates: the Seahawks goal line stand against the Rams on Monday Night Football, Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson goals for the Sounders on Wednesday against Colorado, which helped Seattle clinch a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals, and really anything from today’s Seahawks comeback win.
But in my mind, there were no plays better than Austin Knerr’s touchdown on Friday night.
Austin is a senior at Juanita High School and is a three-year member of the Rebels football team. He’s part of every practice and every road trip, but could never play in a game because he has cerebral palsy. Before halftime against Interlake on Friday, Austin got his chance. With the Juanita crowd chanting his name from the stands, and after quarterback Dexter McCluster lined Austin up in the backfield, he took off with the ball. With help from his offensive line, Austin ran 30 yards untouched into the end zone for his very first score.
In this day and age of YouTube, Twitter and other social media, we hear these kinds of stories on a more regular basis. But the importance of these moments should never be diluted. The image of Snohomish player Ike Ditzenberger, who had downs syndrome, scoring a touchdown a few years ago will never be forgotten. I credit the Seahawks and other pro franchises who continue to do amazing things through Make-A-Wish.
But this, this is what sports are ultimately all about. Community. Team camaraderie. Lifting up the guy next to you. Rewarding a teammate for their loyalty and dedication. Austin Knerr deserved that touchdown Friday night. He deserved the standing ovation he received. Props go out to everyone involved, including former Seahawk, Art Kuehn, who’s now the Athletic Director at Interlake High School, and Interlake’s Coach, for allowing it to happen. Props to the Juanita High community for making a moment like that come to life.
Of all the football the Rebels will play, this one play could be the most important: the one the players should value the most, and one Austin Knerr will remember forever.