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Football Changes Area Player's Life

Player with mild autism impacts Huntingdon's football team.
HUNTINGDON - “It's like I've got more brothers,” Huntingdon senior Garret Smith says.

Football means more than touchdowns, wins and losses to Smith.
Diagnosed with a mild form of autism during kindergarten, the sport's been a life changer.

“For 60 minutes he's just one of the guys,” Smith’s dad Brian says. “And that's just all he wants to be.”

Brian has been at every Bearcats game this season alongside his wife Cindy.
He remembers how he felt when Garrett wanted to start playing football two years ago.

“We're gonna let him decide who he is,” Brian says. “We're not going to let a tag a diagnosis define who are son is going to be.”

Since then, most of Garrett's playing time has been on the junior varsity.
As a 5-5 lineman, he's not physically big.
But's he's had some highlight plays, including a fumble recovery in Monday's JV game.

“I felt excited,” Garret says of the top moment of his brief career, “like I pulled off one big play.”

“It's one play. But it's like the Super Bowl to us,” Brian adds with a smile.

At the varsity level Garret’s impact has been felt off the field.
Thanks in part to football, Garrret's emerged from a social shell and his halftime speeches fire up the Bearcats.

“It makes me want to be a better person knowing Garrett,” teammate Lance Chambers says. “Because he's just striving all the time to have the football team do the best that it can do.”

And on senior night, it’s one last home game for the heart and soul of Huntingdon football.

“I can't wait because all my friends are going to get to see me run onto War Vets Field for the final time,” Garret says, the excitement visible in his face. “And it's going to be one great experience.”
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