OLATHE, Kan. -- Some perfect plays aren't measured on a football scoreboard.
Take, for instance, the one being shown over an ongoing season at Olathe East High School. One of the Hawks stars on special teams is experiencing a shower of support. He's needed it, after a heartache no young person should experience.
No prompting is needed for Taylor Walker to snap into action, or to make others laugh, as seen at a recent student assembly at OEHS, where Walker and his football teammates performed a group dance number that had their fellow students giggling.
However, since last November, Walker's Hawk teammates have been keeping his spirits high. On August 30th, Walker's mother, Stacy Walker, passed away, having fought stage four colon cancer for most of a year. Taylor, a junior at OEHS, was there, as his mother sought treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, while maintaining her sunny personality.
"My mom's just like me. She's strong. She likes talking to people," Taylor Walker said on Thursday.
"She was in the hospital for a while. It was a major surgery. She had the scars all up and down. They took a lot of stuff out."
Stacy Walker passed just before the Hawks second game of the season, a meeting with crosstown rival Olathe North. Taylor decided he wanted to play on, refusing to miss a game while he mourned his mother's loss.
"As best he could, while his eyes were tearing up, he kind of smiled and said, 'This is something I want to do. And that I need to do." In typical Taylor fashion," Jesse Owen, Olathe East head coach, said.
"I thought it would be best to play and get my mind off it and be with my friends," Walker told FOX 4 News.
Walker, the Hawks junior long snapper, says his teammates have comforted him countless times since his mother's passing, proving how much they value him.
"We care for him as a brother and we don't want him to be left in the cold and feel that he doesn't get the love from us that he deserves. We would hope he would give that to us if he needed it too," Ryan Brockschmidt, Hawks middle linebacker, said.
"My friends are usually who I go to. They mean the world to me," Walker said.
Walker says he also has a brother who attends Kansas State University. He says the boys and their dad are trying to get back to normal, but they miss their mother and wife very much.
Olathe East lost to Shawnee Mission East on Friday night 43-14. The Lancers (5-1) will face Lawrence High on Thursday, October 12th. The Hawks (3-3) meet Lawrence Free State on Friday, October 13th.