The Olivet Eagles pulled off one of the most remarkably successful football plays of all time, but you’ve probably never seen it. Why? It happened on a middle school football field in 2013.
The Eagles middle school football team is from Olivet, Michigan, and the play happened on a day that wasn’t unlike many other days of football—a simple contest between two neighboring schools. But it was so much more than that.
The players hatched a secret plan to NOT score.
The players on the Olivette Middle School football team in 2013 took a special interest and liking to one of their players, Keith Orr. He was at the center of two secret plays that the team had been preparing for weeks to pull off in an upcoming game.
Nobody was in on their scheme; not the coaches, the parents, and not even Keith himself. The reason? Well, mainly because part of that plan was to not score, and that just doesn’t go over well with fans and coaches, generally speaking.
Why would any team do THAT?
When asked why a competitive football team would ever want to do such a thing, the answer was incredibly clear and kind.
“It’s just like a way to make someone’s day,” said player Justice Miller in an interview with CBS News, “to make someone’s week, to make them happy.”
The perfect opportunity came.
The day came for the execution of the Eagle’s secret plan. It was at a home game early in the month, so the home fans were present, including Keith’s parents.
To clarify, the full plan never included not scoring permanently. Not at all. The plan was really more about who would do the scoring.
The Eagle’s made their way down the field, but even when they were clearly in a position to cross the goal line for a touchdown, the player holding the ball stopped short and took a knee. The crowd was confused and not happy.
“But us kids knew, ‘Hey, we got this,” explained quarterback Parker Smith with a sly grin. “This is our time.”
“This is Keith’s time.”
Keith is learning disabled. He struggles with boundary issues, but in the best possible way. When he likes someone, he’s not afraid to show it, and his joy and enthusiasm are contagious.
The players loved Keith and embraced him, regardless of his football skills or any other issues he may be dealing with. That was just all the more reason to make sure he knew what the Eagles were all about.
“We thought it would be cool to do something for him,” said Parker. Another player added, “Because we really wanted to prove to him that he was part of our team and he meant a lot to us.”
“Nothing can explain [what it’s like] getting a touchdown,” Justice also chimed in,”when you’ve never had one before.”
Keith took the ball.
After having accomplished part one of their two-part plan and stopping the ball on the one-yard line in scoring position, it was time to execute part two of the plan.
The Eagles hiked the ball, handed it off to Keith, and blocked like crazy.
Keith had made a touchdown!
When asked later about what it felt like to get that touchdown, Keith replied, “Awesome!”
His parents were awe-struck.
Keith was so proud, as were the players and the fans, as well as Keith’s parents, who nearly missed seeing the moment! Carey and Tim Orr were ecstatic and stunned.
“Did he just score a touchdown?!!!” Carey said in describing her reaction to her husband immediately after they witnessed what they never thought they would witness!
The team was changed for life.
The outcome of that beautiful football play resulted in many melted hearts, chants of victory, and lessons learned. Perhaps the most affected of all was Justice Miller, even more so than Keith himself.
“He’s never been like cool or popular, and he went from like being pretty much a nobody to making everyone’s day,” said the wide receiver.
Justice was in tears, describing what the event meant to him and how it changed his mindset.
“I went from being someone who cared mostly about myself and my friends to caring about everyone,” he said.
You have to see this.
The story speaks volumes to the character of the Eagles and the value of humanity, and it reminds us all what humility, vulnerability, hope, and kindness are all about. That is what makes this football play the most successful football play of all-time.