As a homecoming crowd of Herricks High School students lined the entrance of the school’s field, held back only by a strip of caution tape, senior Liam O’Brien scored the game’s final touchdown in the last minute of play on Friday.
The massive crowd rushed the field to congratulate O’Brien on his play, and the team on their victory.
The Herricks Highlanders won their homecoming football game 28-0, beating the Valley Stream North High School Spartans.
O’Brien, who has autism, brought home the victory.
“Liam’s a great, great kid, very energetic, very motivated,” assistant principal Andrew Frisone said. “He just loves this stuff. When they asked him to run a play, he was just over the moon about it.”
Back in his sophomore year, O’Brien joined the varsity football team as manager, and returned to fill the position for his senior year.
He has dedicated his time to helping out after school at practices, and players on the team hoped to get O’Brien even more involved during homecoming by giving him a chance to run the game’s final play.
“He was so happy,” said Bill O’Brien, Liam’s father. “Afterwards a bunch of kids in the school came up to him, and he was thrilled. He said it was the best day of his life.”
After the game, Liam’s teammates awarded him a 2015 Homecoming Most Valuable Player trophy for his dedication to the team after the victory.
Bill O’Brien said he was thrilled to see fellow students being so supportive and encouraging of Liam.
“It was such a great thing for him to be a bigger part of the school, to see him part of the varsity football team,” O’Brien said. “It’s something our family will remember for the rest of our lives, and so will Liam.”
Earlier in the day, the high school held its annual homecoming pep rally to hype up the students for that night’s game.
With a new principal this year, Samuel M. Thompson, the rally offered a great opportunity for everyone to join in on the school spirit.
“We had a great pep rally,” Frisone said. “They invited Dr. Thompson up, he danced with them so it was a really cool way to get him adjusted to the school. It was great to see us winning, it just really has been a wonderful experience.”