POTTSTOWN >> His name may never appear on an all-time career leader list.
It may not appear on another football box score this season even.
However, Pottstown senior Marvin Pearson — blind since the age of 10 — has already left a lasting impression, his 68-yard touchdown run against Pottsgrove on Saturday serving as a lesson to all: anything can be done if you put your mind to it.
Cliche? Yes. The world is full of them.
However, “Anything can be done if you put your mind to it,” as Pearson put it after practice on Wednesday afternoon, has only become overused because of the many people that survive the odds and surpass them.
Pearson is one of them.
He does it with grit, he does it with a sense of self. Pearson knows his limitations, yet constantly exceeds them.
His love for football and all sports pure. He constantly analyzes the X’s and the O’s. He’s a gameplanner during the week, a positive teammate on the weekend. He owns 17 fantasy football teams and monitors them constantly. His added knowledge from playing the game helping him out in his league standings – every one of them.
Upon his return to Pottstown after spending three years at the Overbrook School for the Blind, coaches didn’t know how to get him involved when he first came to camp two days before the Trojans’ Week 1 contest against Sun Valley. Now, he’s participating in drills and running relay race conditioning drills.
He’s succeeding in his goal at the start of the season. Scoring touchdowns.
“It’s an exhilarating feeling being able to run, that’s what I love to do,” Pearson said after Saturday’s 48-8 loss to Pottsgrove. “As disappointing as this loss was, I was happy to get a chance to prove that I do have skills despite the fact that I can’t see.
“It’s probably obvious that the other team didn’t go as hard as they should have but I guess it’s due to respect that I’m probably one of the only blind players in the country — if not the world — playing football right now.”
Pearson was given the game ball after the victory before posing for a picture in the high school lobby. A dozen or so teammates tried to crowd into the picture. The respect for Pearson palpable. The respect he had for his teammates the same. A “positive culture” that former head coach Don Grinstead built, and new head coach Gary Rhodenbaugh continues, evident around the Pottstown football program.
The community reaction followed suit.
The video of his touchdown run went locally viral, the comments all expressing the same tone of respect, many with appreciation of Pottsgrove and head coach Rick Pennypacker for allowing the moment to occur. However, more importantly, most of the comments expressed unity.
In a town that’s constantly waging a war with itself, Pearson’s determination to defy the odds overshadowed the negatives this town faces on a daily basis.
The negativity, the drug busts, the crime, the lack of lights surrounding the stadium were left in the backfield, further and further behind Pearson as he sprinted toward the far end zone.
Too often a shining moment is just that. A moment. It was a snap back to reality too soon after Pearson’s big play when a brawl broke in the parking lot after the game, requiring five police cars on to the scene.
If only more attention would have been paid to what was going on inside the gates, to not just see the moment of unity, respect, triumph, but to feel it.
That’s what Marvin does.
Sam Stewart is the Assistant Sports Editor of The Mercury. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org