Centennial High School in Corona, Calif. has produced several Division I football stars including Arizona State University’s standout defensive lineman Will Sutton.
At the school this week, however, the story line is not about major college football players or those who have made headlines in pro ball.
Rather it’s about the head coach’s daughter, 17-year-old senior Sami Logan, receiving the opportunity to play quarterback and completing an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Dye during a football game against Roosevelt High.
While some may have thought the pass was a ploy or publicity stunt, it actually was planned as a tribute to both Sami’s and Jordan’s mothers.
Both teenagers lost their moms to breast cancer and because October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the two hatched up the pass as a way to pay respect to their mothers.
Sami told the media after the game that cancer was a horrible, horrible disease and she and Jordan wanted to do a tribute to their mothers and also raise awareness of the fight against cancer.
Sami’s father, who was at first reluctant, finally went along with the idea, but by rule had to have his daughter practice in full pads for two weeks to be eligible to enter the game.
During those practices, he gave her three plays to master.
Before the game, Roosevelt High School coaches and administrators were told of the tribute and agreed to go along with it, but not pull any punches.
Roosevelt coach Tony Barile instructed his team to treat Sami as any other player and to not ease up. Cheap shots, however, would be severely dealt with, he said.
Sami entered the game late midway through the fourth quarter with Centennial leading 51-14.
Probably nervous, she misread the first play call from the sidelines resulting in an incomplete pass intended for Jordan.
On the second play, however, she unleashed an almost perfectly executed spiral over the middle that was corralled by Jordan.
Seeing the pass and catch, the standing room only crowd erupted into cheers, applause and robust rounds of high fives
On the next play, Centennial scored on a 15-yard TD run allowing Sami and Jordan to trot victoriously back to the bench where they were greeted with hugs and rounds of congratulations from their teammates.
After the game, Jordan told others he knew in his heart that his mother had seen him make the catch. Sami expressed the same emotions, telling listeners her mother was proud to see her make the throw.
With the tribute a rousing success, Sami has turned her attention to basketball — she’s a star on the Centennial High School girls team. Jordan continues to play football hoping to lead the school to postseason success.
The stirring tribute is what makes prep athletes special. On no other stage in modern society could a show of love and respect be done successfully.