TMSG: Van High School Player Scores Big Win Off the Field

A varsity high school football player in Van Zandt County just scored his biggest touchdown.

It wasn't a big play on the field that brought the winning moment. It was what Van High School varsity player AJ Zarate did before and after the homecoming game last week.

Zarate is friends with a young woman named Riley Walters. Riley took her little brother to last week's homecoming parade and community bonfire. She introduced Wyatt, 8, to Zarate and in an instant, Wyatt became the player's biggest fan.

"Wyatt wanted a picture with him. AJ scooped him up and put him on his shoulder for the pic and told him to find him after the game Friday. Wyatt couldn’t stop talking about him and even had Riley paint a #9 on his shirt to wear to the game," writes mom Sheila Walters.

Walters said after the game, as players and fans rushed the field, Wyatt was a mission to find his favorite player. When they connected, Zarate took off his game gloves and handed them over, saying "I want you to have these."

Walters said Wyatt was so excited, he could barely tell the story of what happened. When they got home, Wyatt carefully put the gloves in drawer until mom found "the perfect shadow box to put them in so he can keep them forever."

Sheila Walters said, "For AJ to take the time to do something like that just to make a little boy’s day shows the kind of kids we have here in Van! To some this is just another high school senior playing football on Friday nights but to my little 8 year old he is a hero!"

Walters said she reached out to NBC 5 to "share a sweet story from our little town."

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