Goshen football team honors boy who died on first day of school

Posted at 7:20 PM, Oct 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-21 05:03:44-04

GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The Goshen Warriors have been on a roll this season, remaining undefeated after Friday's game against Batavia.

The coach said it may have something to do with a big fan who died this summer.

Peyton West, 13, survived a heart transplant earlier this year, but died suddenly on the first day of school in August. 

MORE: Hundreds pay respects to Peyton West, 13-year-old heart transplant recipient

Peyton was from a football family. His older brother plays for the team. Their day, Corey West, said Peyton "lived his dreams through his brother that played football and the players on the football team.

Friday night, senior Logan Mantz wore Peyton's favorite number: 44. Corey West said they called it "Peyton's OCD number."

"It's a really big honor wearing Peyton's number for my senior night," he said.

When Peyton died, coach Ryan George knew he wanted to honor the eighth grader.

"Each week, a different senior wears 44," George said. Actually the first week, Peyton's brother who is a junior, Ethan, wore 44 and scored the first touchdown of the year."

Some people may think it's a coincidence, but George noticed players who put on the 44 jersey seemed to come out on the field really inspired.

"Jimmy Strunk was 44 last week," he said. "He had 177 yards rushing and he played very good defensive game."

Friday, the Warriors won their senior night game 41-0. 

Corey West said he believes Peyton and his number played a role.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this team and these seniors are special," he said. "But there is also no doubt in my mind that number 44 is the 12th man on the field."

The players also believe Peyton has something to do with it.

"He's there," senior Brandon Harrison said. "We kind of know he has always been there."