Monroe City's Buckman celebrates crowning achievement
MONROE CITY, Mo. (WGEM) -
Three years after joining the Monroe City football team as a team manager, senior Chase Buckman decided to trade in his water bottles and towels for a helmet and pair of shoulder pads ahead of the 2017 season.
"Him being a part of this football team and wanting to be a player, man, that just speaks volumes to the type of kid he is," said head coach David Kirby.
Chase, who has Down Syndrome, hasn't missed a practice, a film session or a game, yet as he has become the perfect teammate.
"He always lightens the mood," said junior quarterback Blake Hays.
"When we're having a tough practice, talk to Chase and he'll get you to smile."
So Friday, during Monroe City's homecoming game against Paris, as the Panthers prepared for halftime Chase was getting ready for his coronation. The senior was elected homecoming king. In a show of support, Kirby decided to keep his team on the field, rather than in the locker room.
"He's such a popular kid amongst the team and amongst the school and we wanted (the team) to share that experience with him, too," he said.
As the Panthers led Paris late into the game, Chase's name was called one more time and this time by head coach David Kirby to go into the game at running back.
Kirby, meanwhile, already had a plan in mind.
"The Chase Special," said Hays.
As Hays called for "The Chase Special" in the huddle, Buckman knew the ball was coming his way. With an army of blockers leading the way, the senior sprinted 39 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
"They passed the ball to me and I ran it back for a touchdown," recalls Chase. "Then, they all came to me and cheered me on," he said, still smiling from Friday night.
Junior Gage Bottoms was one of Chase's lead blockers and remembers the moment well.
"It was a big moment for him and a big moment for the team," he says.
"We were all waiting for it and ready for it. Whenever we heard that play called we were really excited to try and get Chase into the end zone."
In the end, the Panthers secured their seventh straight win to preserve their unbeaten season hopes. However, even if Monroe City does go undefeated, Friday won't be remembered for a win.
"It was just one of those special moments in time," said Kirby. "I mean, I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling,"
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