Everybody makes spur-of- the-moment decisions they wish they hadn’t.
Episcopal football coach Travis Bourgeois made one during a junior varsity game last week that everyone should applaud.
If what happened during the JV game between the Knights and St. John-Plaquemine was planned or was part of a varsity game, it probably would be a YouTube sensation by now.
St. John coach Crickett Crockett informed game officials and the Episcopal coaches that Grant Cedotal, a ninth-grader with autism, was entering the game.
The Eagles had done this before, putting Cedotal in for a few plays, typically at wide receiver. Only this time Crockett inserted Cedotal in the backfield. Bourgeois didn’t hesitate.
“I told our JV coaches and our players that he (Cedotal) needed to feel what it was like to score a touchdown,” Bourgeois said.
What followed bordered on the surreal.
“I had no idea what Travis told his players to do,” Crockett said. “I figured Grant would run a few yards, the whistle would blow, and that it would be it. I had no idea he’d run 75 yards for a touchdown.”
But Cedotal did run, complete with a full escort. When the ball was snapped, the St. John players moved toward the Episcopal players preparing to go through the blocking motions.
Soon players from both teams made their way down the field, trailing Cedotal as he ran into the end zone. The Knights and Eagles, along with their coaches, took turns exchanging high-fives with Cedotal and each other. Players from both teams posed for pictures together.
But it wasn’t over just yet. St. John lined up for the two-point conversion, and again Cedotal got the ball and he scored again.
Crockett calls what happened the greatest act of sportsmanship he’s seen.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Crockett said. “I think Travis and their players should be commended for what they did. They didn’t have to do it, but they made a decision that gave all of us a memory we’ll never forget.”
Cedotal’s mother, Christine, agreed, recalling her view for the play.
“When they put Grant in the backfield, my first thought was, ‘What is he (Crockett) doing?’ I wasn’t sure Grant would run with the ball,” she said. “I thought he might go about 5 yards and just stop.
“Grant has come a long way developmentally the last few years, and the people at St. John have been wonderful with him. Afterwards, coach (Crockett) gave Grant a shout-out on Twitter, and he loved it. What they (Episcopal team) did was special.”
I know all you cynics figure this was some sort of set-up. Episcopal has taken plenty of hits for its decision to take the case of getting 19-year-old African refugee Clement Mubungirwa an added year of eligibility to the Legislature.
Episcopal eventually lost Mubungirwa’s high-profile arbitration case to the delight of many. It’s true that Cedotal’s father graduated three years ahead of Bourgeois at Donaldsonville’s Ascension Catholic. The families are acquaintances. But it was Crockett who texted me, wanting to thank Episcopal.
As Bourgeois noted, this wasn’t just about football.
“At some point, it has to be about more than just playing to win or lose,” Bourgeois said. “Our job is to teach our athletes about life and how thankful we should be for what we have.
“It was an awesome feeling for me to just be part of it. I’ll never forget it and 20 years down the road I bet it’s something all the players remember too.”
Madison Prep will host Hall of Fame girls basketball games on Saturday at the school.
The scrimmage games begin at 10:30 a.m. with Morgan City vs. Mentorship Academy and concluded at 7:30 p.m. with the Chargers facing McKinley.
- The East Baton Rouge Parish Middle School District Volleyball Championships will begin at 2:40 p.m. Thursday at Westdale Middle School. Westdale, Sherwood, McKinley and Glasgow are scheduled to compete for the title.