TD run highlights emotional evening for Pitcairn youth football community
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Jabril Braxton wears No. 42 on his Pitcairn Jr. Mohawks football jersey, but Saturday night, his father was on his heart and mind as he took the field against South Greensburg in a home football game at Pitcairn's borough park field.
Six days had passed since his father, Qaeed Braxton, 36, of Duquesne, was shot and killed in Homestead in the early-morning hours of Sept. 22.
Investigators don't believe Qaeed Braxton was the target of the shooter.
With the support of his teammates, coaches and everyone else in the Pitcairn youth football organization, Jabril, 10, a starter for the JV Braves ages 10-11 squad, carried on the best he could.
And on the first play of the game, he made a memorable play that punctuated an evening flooded with so many emotions.
Jabril, a Pitcairn resident and a fifth-grade student in the Gateway School District, took a handoff and raced to the right. He eluded South Greensburg defenders and headed down the sidelines. No one caught him.
He scored a touchdown for his team….for his father.
“Right before the game, Jabril was standing under the goal post before we went out, and I told him to look up in the sky, and he looked up,” Braves coach Zachary Smith said.
“I told him his dad is sitting on a recliner up in heaven, he has his feet kicked up, and he had the best seat in the house to watch him play. I told him to score a touchdown for (his dad) on the first play.”
Smith watched the play unfold in front of the Pitcairn sideline. Jabril was mobbed by his teammates in the end zone.
“I couldn't believe what was in front of us, what he just did,” Smith said.
“I had tears rolling down my face with happiness and joy. I looked to the other coach, Matt Gardner, and he had tears coming out of his eyes, too. Something truly special happened. Jabril's a speedster. He's definitely one of the fastest kids on the team.”
The touchdown turned out to be the game winner, as Pitcairn took the game, 16-0.
Before the contest, coach Smith and Jabril, the team's lone captain, walked out to the center of the field for the coin toss. Jabril wore a hat that honored his father.
“Jabril was wondering where the other captains were, because there are always four captains,” Smith said.
Behind him, his teammates lined up and took a knee in a show of respect for their teammate. Each team member wrote the No. 27 on their hands. No. 27 was Qaeed Braxton's number as a football standout at Duquesne High School.
“When his teammates found out (earlier in the week), they wanted to do something special for Jabril,” Smith said.
“They wanted to wear No. 27 on their shirts or helmets. We weren't able to do that because there is a rule, but they could put No. 27 on their hands. They just wanted to find a way to support him.”
Smith said Jabril has a passion to do his best on and off the field.
“Every time you talk to him, he smiles, and it makes you want to smile,” Smith said.
“When you tell him something, he listens well and does what you tell him to do. There is a strong will he has to learn and get better. He always asks me what he can do to get better. His father, no doubt, coached him well to listen.”
Jabril, in his second year in the Pitcairn football program, got the game ball. It was his first ever touchdown.
In addition to Braxton's touchdown, Jaden Hurt also scored for the Braves in their 16-0 victory. Eathan Carr added both two-point conversions.
The Pitcairn Chiefs (ages 11-12) defeated South Greensburg, 48-14, behind three touchdowns from Trenell Scott, two from Lamonte Farrish and one each from Zach Smith, Malcolm Johnson and Hunter Richardson.
The first game saw the Little Braves (ages 7-8) development team upend South Greensburg, 30-6.
Scoring touchdowns in the game were Chris Livsey (3) and Taymir O'Neal.
Livsey, Floyd McKenna and Baron Vowler each added extra-points.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Pirates can’t waste McCutchen’s prime
- East Huntingdon man dies following police chase
- Giants, Bumgarner shut out Pirates in wild-card game
- Steelers pressing to create opportunities to get to quarterback
- Pirates’ Martin calls crowd chant ‘petty special’
- Highmark to increase premiums, limit access to health care in new plans
- Consol Energy cutting retiree health benefits, phasing out pension
- Woman dies in fall at McConnells Mill State Park
- Dense fog slows Western Pa. morning rush hour
- WPIAL football coaches use unique awards to motivate their players
- Police: Westmoreland woman forged painkiller prescriptions