Playing through Tragedy - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Playing through Tragedy

WINONA, TEXAS (KLTV) - Friday Night.

Winona High School.

Under the lights at Wildcat Stadium, Devin Johnson, played a game, he will never forget.

"It was very emotional, from the time I got here to the end of the game, it was very emotional time."

It was just a day earlier, when the 16 year old, learned the tragic news.

His father Willie, had passed away.

Johnson decided he would play.

"I know and I just think my dad would want me to come out here and handle my business and not just sit around and be sad all the time." said Johnson, a junior. "He would want me to come out here. That is how I thought about it, he would want me to and I am going to play."

"I did not know what to expect, I knew he would give everything he has, like he always does," said Scott Evans, head football coach at Winona. "He just came out and played a heck of a game."

Against Frankston, with the game on the line, Johnson made a memorable play to win the game.

It was one he and his dad, had always talked about.

"Before every game I always told him, 'Dad, I am going to get an interception today,' and he was like, 'You go out there and do it.'" said Johnson. "I did it on Friday, but he was not here. It made me feel good that I did it for him."

"He intercepted the ball that sealed the game and everyone on our team left the bench and the field and just surrounded him there, it was a special moment," said Evans.

Johnson's interception capped an incredible night.

The day after his fathers death, he had 12 tackles, a forced fumble and the interception to seal the game.

"I don't think that I could have come out and played a game like he did," said senior quarterback Jacob Moseley. "It was really great, it meant a lot after the game, it was really emotional."

A constant reminder of his loss, is on every Wildcat helmet, a white cross with the number 21 in the middle.

Johnson's cross says "RIP DAD."

It's a way for him to remember one of his biggest fans.

"Sometimes I look in the stands just to picture him being there," said Johnson. "He loved football and he loved watching me play."

Perhaps somewhere out there, he still is.

Johnson will attend the funeral of his father on Friday morning.

He plans to play that night.

The win over Frankston has put Winona in a tie (with Frankston) for the final playoff spot in District 10-2A D-II.

The Wildcats play at Union Grove on Friday.

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