Opposing player lets Wisconsin boy with Down syndrome make his first tackle in football game

Posted at 12:10 PM, Sep 27, 2017

OCONOMOWOC -- A video shared on Facebook of a young boy with Down syndrome making his first-ever tackle on the football field thanks to an opponent's kind gesture is racking up thousands of views. 

The inspiring display of sportsmanship happened over the weekend in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where the 8th grade youth football team was taking on the  Eisenhower Generals. One young man on the roster, Jack Haney, has Down syndrome and was put into the game in the closing minutes.

"I tackle guys," Haney said. "I do, like this."

A Facebook post on Oconomowoc Youth Football's Facebook page explains what happened next:

"Jack doesn't get to play very often but is always excited and ready to go when Coach Pilachowski calls his number. In this play the Generals completed a pass to #7 Max Ringwall. COMPLETELY ON HIS OWN, Max stops running after he makes a catch and heads down the sidelines and points to Jack who comes over and makes his first ever tackle in a football game. This was not planned and Max sacrificed a big play for himself to make a huge play for someone else."

Jack re-enacted what he did when he tackled Max Ringwall, pushing his hands forward. 
It was late in the game Saturday when Jack had his number called. His team was up 28-0 but it was his time to shine. 

"We like to get Jack on the field," Jesse Pilachowski, Jack's football coach said. "It wasn't the first time he was in the field and not the last time he'll be on the field."

It may not have been his first time on the gridiron but it was time for a first. Ringwall noticed Jack in the huddle and talked to his quarterback, Braden Orbst. He said whoever made the next catch would have Jack make the tackle.

"It was just, yes, let's do it," Orbst said. "Let's make it happen."

So Ringwall ran an out route towards the sideline and Orbst fired a laser right to him for the completion. 

But even with a clear path to the endzone, Ringwall slowed down to a stop, motioning to Jack to come get him.

"We were in the stands not knowing what was happening," said Gina Haney, Jack's mother. "To know [Ringwall] did it on his own is amazing. He's an incredible kid."

"They put him in the game and we thought he would stand on the field or something," said Jordan Haney, Jack's sister. "But he went up and tackled somebody. I was really surprised."

So the 13-year-olds in the huddle hatched up this plan without any adult input or consultation. They may be learning the game of football, but the game of life is something they could teach a master class in.

While football has been a touchy subject for fans disagreeing with NFL protests, Saturday's moment shows the good football can bring out of people.

"If you see the play, [Ringwall] easily could have gone down the field and scored," Pilachowski said. "When you're a youth football player, to put that aside and say, I want to do something for the greater good? That's what meant so much."

"I couldn't be prouder of the boys," said Bob Hall, the head coach of the Generals. "A year from now, five years, ten years, no one will remember the score of the game. They'll remember that special moment in both kids lives."

"We got a chance to experience what everybody else experiences," said Paul Haney, Jack's dad. "That's watching our kid do sports with other kids. I felt like every other parent seeing their kid make their first tackle. It's indescribable."

Jack already has his sights on his next tackle. He says he wants to make five tackles in total this season. 

You can watch the full video below: