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High School Sports

NC football teams give Sam, a student with Down syndrome, a night to remember


On Senior Night at Lake Norman High School on Friday, Wildcats football coach Jonathan Oliphant wanted to do something special for senior Sam Jordan.

Jordan, who has Down syndrome, has been the team’s manager since he was a freshman.

“We wanted to do something for him that he wouldn’t forget,” Oliphant said.

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So during Thursday night’s junior varsity game with Vance, Oliphant approached Vance varsity coach Glenwood Ferebee with a plan: Let Jordan run for a touchdown before the teams played a huge I-MECK 4A conference game for first place.

Ferebee agreed, and before the kickoff to officially start the varsity game, Jordan lined up in the backfield with the ball at the 50.

He burst through the line and the Vance players dove at his feet, one after another. And when Jordan scored, he was mobbed by both teams.

“It was great,” said Ferebee, whose team, ranked No. 1 in the Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, rallied to win 35-16. “My background is in special (education), and I identify with those kids and I understand how special they are. I talked to my kids and said, ‘Make sure that kid has the best moment because he’ll remember this for the rest of his life.’ ”

Oliphant said the moment was everything he — and Jordan — could’ve hoped for.

“You try to teach these kids to be good people and good husbands and good dads,” Oliphant said. “At some point, the Man Upstairs will judge us all, and I try to live by the Golden Rule and I try to get these kids to do the same. The world’s a crazy place right now, but I think we made his night.”

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