Team helps injured student score senior night touchdown
SUNLAKE (FOX 13) - Friday was a Senior Night football game for the ages in Pasco County. After a minute and ten seconds, Sunlake High School senior Xavier Johnson made it into the end zone to score his last touchdown. It was two yards of huffing and straining and help from his teammates.
But it's been months of rehabilitation for this football player to be able to even be at the game. Xavier suffered severe brain damage in May of 2015 in a tubing accident.
For a year-and-a-half, he's on the sideline. The tubing accident severely damaged his motor control.
"He gets to go to team meetings. He is welcome to come to the weight room. He comes to practices," Xavier's father, Ross Johnson said. "I love these young men as if they were my own."
Xavier communicates by holding up one or two fingers, or kicking a leg, or smiling.His rehab regimen has been documented on Facebook.
"He's doing things that they said he would never be able to do," Ross Johnson said. "He has never lost this drive, this hope, this peace."
Friday night, after the opening kickoff, Sunlake and River Ridge agreed to stop the game, so he could get one into the end zone.
To score the touchdown, the one-time star linebacker battled. Not against his opponents, but against himself.
"There is so much firing in his brain to get him to stand up like that," Ross explained.
It took him a minute and ten seconds - and help from his teammates - to go two yards, with nothing but end zone in front of him.
A random accident was an end, in one way, as surely as it was a beginning in a thousand others.
"The story that (God) has written through Xavier, through a wheelchair, blows away the story that I was writing for him on the football field," Ross said.
Xavier Johnson is on track to graduate at the end of the school year.