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Vista Ridge's football team lets '12th Player' participate in key game

Monday, October 17, 2016

Eleventh-grader Grayson Moyer, 16, runs with the Wolves ahead of a homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Vista Ridge High School.

Eleventh-grader Grayson Moyer, 16, runs with the Wolves ahead of a homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Vista Ridge High School.

When the Vista Ridge Wolves won their homecoming football game after a strong second-half comeback, it was perhaps their “12th player” who was most excited.

The District 49 team took down the Montrose High Indians, 35-21, during a homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Vista Ridge in eastern Colorado Springs.

As the team entered the field, surrounded by cheerleaders and the thunder of hundreds of fans, their 12th player carried the school colors. For the third consecutive year, 11th-grader Grayson Moyer was selected to join the Wolves, recognizing his contagious pride.

Grayson, 16, wore a jersey with the No. 12, along with a football helmet. The helmet belonged to teammate Nathan Hutfilz. He removed it after called by the referees to flip a coin to determine which team took had first possession.

“He’s our hardest worker, best spirited and our biggest fan,” said 12th-grader Nathan, 18. The two students first met when Grayson was a freshman. They started sitting together at lunch.

Grayson has watched football since he was a baby, according to father Kris Moyer. However, due to developmental delays due to a missing chromosome, it’s tough for him to muster a player’s intensity. He has low muscle tone and slow reflexes.

But Nathan and his teammates stopped that from keeping him completely off the field at Vista Ridge.

“I want him to experience a day as a Wolf,” said Nathan, awaiting his next play, as Grayson watched nearby. “Everyone in our school loves him. He’s always putting a smile on our faces — he’s always saying, ‘go Wolves, go Wolves.’”

“He’s a huge sports fan,” said Moyer, while sitting with son Grayson, whose eyes remained on the field. “He’s just naturally attracted to the excitement of it.”

“He’s getting a lot of opportunity here,” said Moyer about Vista Ridge High School. “The students are going out of their way to acknowledge him. It touches my heart, and I know it touches his.”

Moyer says his son likes being with other people and making friends, just like his typical peers.

“If you approach (students with special needs) as a person first, I think you’re doing the right thing. Connect with the person. Not only will it help their life, it’ll help their own, too.”

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