Michigan recruit Michael Ferns stepped out at 1-yard line so teammate who lost his father could score
On Oct. 3, two days before St. Clairsville High School (Ohio) defeated Edison, St. Clairsville freshman Logan Thompson tragically lost his father, Paul, to an unexpected stroke. In order to help him honor his father, Thompson’s St. Clairsville teammates were determined to make Oct. 5 the night he scored his first touchdown. They accomplished their goal.
Prior to the game, St. Clairsville coach Brett McLean got together with his team — unbeknownst to Thompson — and instructed anyone who had a clear path to the end zone to step out at the one-yard line. Michigan recruit Michael Ferns followed the instructions when he broke a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“When I saw Mike break away down the sideline I just started yelling for Logan,” McLean told USA TODAY High School Sports. “He was surprised because he – like everyone else – figured Mike would just run it on in. Logan didn’t know anything about what we were doing.”
The officials were also baffled by the play, and they signaled touchdown despite the fact that Ferns stepped out. The play was overturned after the St. Clairsville coaches and players emphatically protested the call, and in came Thompson to turn his first ever high school carry into his first career touchdown.
“Mike ran up to Logan and gave him a big hug,” McLean explained. “It was emotional for everyone. Last Friday was something that touched the whole team. Logan was going through so much and for a few minutes we helped him get his mind off of things. It honored his dad. It was just an awesome moment.”
The gesture appears to have meant a lot to Thompson, who paid tribute to his father on Twitter after the game and said he knew “the old man was watching.” Like the story of this unforgettable free throw or this amazing touchdown run, moments like the one St. Clairsville made happen remind us that football is sometimes more than just a game. In this instance, it was an opportunity for Thompson’s extended family to help him heal.