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Billy Harbison's timeless touchdown


SPRINGVILLE, N.Y.- Time. It measures minutes, not meaning.

But, on the Springville-Griffith High School football field, time is irrelevant - considering the most unforgettable play in school history - had nothing to do with the game.

...

Billy Harbison is a sophomore at Springville High, a top ten student and on the Honor Roll.

He has a passion for taco pizza, Spanish class but, most of all, football.

MORE: Buffalo HS sports coverage

"So, I said the other day. 'Let's watch a movie'. He says, 'We are going to watch a movie. It's called the Saints versus' whatever," chuckles Bill Harbison, Billy's dad.

"Football is, was and will always be number one. No. Number 2," Billy exclaims. "Number one? My family and my friends."

Billy also has cerebral palsy. When he was diagnosed at the age of 3, doctors told his parents Billy may never be able to walk or communicate.

But, Billy surprised them all.

"Life's good. I have nothing to complain about."

...

Life wasn't always this good for Billy. Five years ago his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And, in the Spring of 2012, on her birthday, she passed away.

"I can't believe it's been 7 months since she passed. Time moves quickly," says Billy, softly.

This fall, Billy became team manager of the junior varsity football team. And, on his jersey, you'll often find a pink ribbon in honor of his mother.

"The football team has done wonders for him," affirms Bill.

Billy adds, "Football does give me a sense of family."

And, Billy's teammates are proof of that.

"Didn't matter if you could put up 200 on the bench, squatted 400, didn't really matter. We knew who the strongest kid on the team was, and that was him," declares Billy's teammates

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Usually there are two sides to every story and two sides to every game. But, not this time. On a brisk evening in September on the Springville football field, Billy Harbison left his footprint - a night no one will soon forget.

"We needed a boost," said Springville JV football coach Greg Hodges.

Springville trailed East Aurora 7-nothing. It was halftime.

"And, I walk up to Billy and I tell Billy grab a helmet put shoulder pads on, put your jersey on. And, it was like a five year old at Christmas time," Hodges remembers.

The second half ended. East Aurora 7, Springville 0.

Whistle blew. Game was over. And time stood still on the scoreboard.

00.0

At which point Hodges approached his sideline counterpart.

"I don't even think I got two words out of the sentence. I said, 'Hey Chris, I got this teammate on my team, Billy'. And he said, 'nuff said, nuff said'."

"I gathered my defensive unit and I explained what we're gonna do," says East Aurora JV football coach Chris Cummins.

"And, we instantly knew that there's a more important thing about to happen," an East Aurora player recalls.

"You couldn't even hear Collin [Springville quarterback] yelling the snap counts, it was so loud."

The boy doctors said may never even walk... ran for a touchdown.

...

When asked if he ever imagined one day he would see his son in pads and run for a touchdown, Bill Harbison shakes his head and exhales.

"No."

...

"And I knew that moment, my mom was up in heaven screaming and chanting for me," says Billy.

A moment that is, was and will always be… timeless.

Jonah Javad is a reporter for WGRZ (Buffalo, N.Y.).

 

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