Even middle school football is king in Texas. And on the Balch Springs Jaguars, No. 88 is true royalty.
"He's just strong... a strong young man," Coach Ken Johnson said about Tremaine "Trey" Sampson.
Trey came to the stadium Tuesday night to win... and not just to win a game.
He is only 12, but cancer is taking over his body. Trey has a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Doctors amputated his arm, hoping to stop the spread.
That didn't work.
The cancer made its way to his lungs. And on September 9, Trey and his mother got word there is not much more that doctors can do.
Physicians might not be giving him much hope, but football is.
"The one wish he had was to line up as a Balch Springs player and play in a football game," Coach Johnson said. "Time is not on our side. Time is not on his side. So I just got with my coaches and said, 'Let's show them what we can do. I want Trey to score a touchedown. I want Trey to get the first play of the game.'"
He cannot be tackled, and he cannot run hard, but on the first play of Tuesday night's game — with his Balch Springs Jaguars facing the J.L. Long Bucanneers — Trey Sampson ran untouched into the end zone.
"It felt good," he said, with sweat running down his face. "I was pretty happy when I made the touchdown. There were multiple emotions. I was happy... I was sad... it was just awesome."
The coaches agreed it was the right thing to do. And as soon as Trey scored, teammates surrounded him and celebrated with him.
Opponents did, too.
"The only reason I'm here today is they keep me up, they support me, they help me through these tough times I have," Trey said. "I get my strength from everybody who believes in and supports me, even through the ups and downs, the tough times I've been through. Having my arm amputated, three or four lung surgeries."
Trey's mother, Kimberly Sampson, gave him a hug and a high five. "Don't cry," he told her.
She said he is her source of strength.
"He keeps me going, he keeps me on my feet, he keeps me strong," Sampson said. "This means the world to me. He will never forget this. He was smiling on the way to school this morning. When I dropped him off, he said, 'See you at the game!' 'See you at the game, son,' I said."
"This is really a dream," she added.
The Jaguars went on to win their game. But with a fighter like Trey Sampson on the field, no one could lose.