BAY SPRINGS, MS (WDAM) - Jawon Hamilton is the heart of the Bay Springs football team, even though he's never played a down.
"Jawon, he's not very talkative," said Bay Springs senior defensive back Jaylen Hosey. "Mostly quiet but when we make big plays and win ball games he's very happy."
"I like being around all the boys," Jawon said. "All the football boys and stuff. I just like to see them win."
The Bulldogs have done plenty of that this season, with a 10-3 record, thanks in part to Jawon keeping track of assistant coach Charlie Fall's playbook.
"Coach Fall, that man lose his head if I didn't hold it on," Jawon said. "If it wasn't attached to his body, he'd lose it. And he knows I ain't going to lose it."
Jawon was once running around the baseball field before being diagnosed several years ago with Friederich's Ataxia, a disease of the nervous system, which eventually forced him to the sidelines.
Being a part of the football team goes beyond Jawon's sheer love of sports. When his mother, Megan Hamilton, passed away just this September, the Bulldogs became family.
"I just had to do something to get my mind off my mamma," Jawon said.
"After we beat Mize this year, we gave [Jawon] the game ball," said Bay Springs head coach Dan Brady. "It was right after his mom had passed away…We just felt like giving him that game ball was to let him know: Look, he's going through hard times but he's also got 50 teammates to go through it with him and all the coaches want to be there to help him."
But it's been Jawon that has helped Bay Springs High and inspired them to make it all the way to the third round of the class 2A playoffs. With a win over Amite County on Friday night, Jawon thinks the Bulldogs can win a state championship.
"I don't think, I know," Jawon said.
"He wants us to go win a state championship," Brady said. "Now I don't know if that will happen. I hope it does because if it does he'll be the first kid I give the state championship ring to."
As a senior, there's no telling how many more games Jawon will get to roll out of that tunnel with the Bulldogs. But as long as number eleven's on the sidelines, Bay Springs has a fighting chance.
"We push him out to show the community that we care about everyone," Hosey said. "We fight for family, brothers and mostly we fight for Jawon out there on the football field Friday nights."