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Sick Wis. teen plays first, only football game

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[October 25, 2008]  WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- Darin "Doogie" Weiks is a high school football celebrity in central Wisconsin - thanks to playing one game that was his first and also his last.

"I never thought it would happen," the Athens High School senior said Friday. "This is very special and the best thing in my life. I wanted to play football pretty bad."

InsuranceWeiks, 17, has a rare, genetic liver disease that prevented him from playing the sport - until Thursday night's 33-19 win over Abbotsford.

A friend on the team suggested that Weiks, who plays on the Bluejays' basketball and baseball teams, be the kicker for the last game. The coaches and his parents agreed, and after just three days of practice, Weiks pulled on No. 5 for the season finale.

Since middle school, Weiks wanted to play football, but the chance was too risky of a hit rupturing his enlarged liver. He has an ailment called glycogen storage disease, he said. Last month, doctors found cancerous tumors and Weiks is now on a list for a liver transplant.

All that was forgotten when Weiks trotted onto the field for his first extra point try Thursday night in Athens, a farming town of about 1,000 people 30 miles northwest of Wausau, as his father, the field announcer, called out his name and number.

"I heard him. It was pretty special," the teen recalled Friday in a telephone interview from the 200-student high school.


His teammates urged him on.

"They told me that it didn't matter if I made it or missed it," Weiks said. "Just that they were happy that I could be out there with them."

With his mom in the stands next to a banner reading, "This Weik's Special is a Kicker," the "pretty pumped up" rookie lined up for the kick.

"It went right down the middle," he said. "I didn't really hear the crowd, but I guess they were pretty loud."

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For the night, Weiks made three of five extra point tries.

"It was pretty special to be part of the team," said the senior who hopes to study nursing after he graduates. "I was just so grateful that all my friends would be able to do that for me - being out there with them guys on the last game of our career."

The team finished 3-6, out of the playoffs, but Weiks said he felt like a celebrity Friday - and a little like the star of the 1993 movie "Rudy," an account of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger and his dream of playing football at Notre Dame.

While he awaits a call for the liver transplant, Weiks intends to continue his athletic career.

"I am pretty happy," he said. "I start basketball Nov. 17."

[Associated Press; By ROBERT IMRIE]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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