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Autistic Student Earns Starting Spot On Mitchell Bluejackets Junior Varsity Team
Updated August 30, 2013 7:20 AM | Filed under: Sports
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(MITCHELL) - 15-year-old Zachary is autistic and suffered with Asperger syndrome.

A disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, physical clumsiness and peculiar or odd use of language.

But none of that stopped Zackary who is a freshman at Mitchell High School.

In junior high, Zachary sat on the bench, but this year Coach John Edge gave Zach the chance to show the team just what he is made of.

Zachary is a starting linebacker on the defense and starts for the kick-off and punt team. He also plays running back on the offense.

"Lots of times when a person hears a child is autistic or has special needs they push them to the side and don't give them a chance," says Zach's mom April Stemann. "Zach is just like any other child and with determination he worked hard to earn those positions. We want to share Zach's story to show parents and others who deal with autistic or special needs children that there is hope and anything is possible."

Zach will be featured on a special broadcast by WAVE 3 who were at the school this week filming Zach and the team.

Stemann played a role in Zach reaching his goals.

"I am behind him 100 percent," she added. "Some parents hold their children back and use their autism as an excuse - I don't want that for Zach. If he wants to try something I am behind him cheering him on. If we succeed great and if we don't - we gave it our best shot."

Stemann will be in the bleachers tonight when the Mitchell Bluejackets host Springs Valley in the 2013 football home opener.

The Mitchell Football boosters will host a tailgate party in the parking lot with a hog roast starting at 5 p.m.

They are honoring the 1963 Mitchell team on the 50-year anniversary of their undefeated season.

The ceremony is slated for 6:40 p.m

The 2013 Bluejackets are dedicating this season to the 1963 team will take the field in new uniforms with the Mercury 7 logo -- the same logo used in 1963 -- on their helmets.

Due to the high temperatures today, the high school football game at Terry Cole Field has been moved to 8 p.m.

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