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It was the second quarter of the Southmoreland versus Beaver Falls game. The Scotties were putting up their best efforts, but they were still down 28-7 to the Tigers.
Southmoreland quarterback senior Jaden Datz was playing through the brutality of the Tigers, even though his jersey, number 7, was ripped.
During halftime, Datz refused to change into a different jersey.
“It was ripped pretty bad,” Datz said. “There was nothing I could do that night. I didn’t want to change into any other jersey.”
Through the 11 years he has played the sport, the jersey number 7 has been significant in his football career.
“My brother (Dakota) actually picked 7 when he was in ninth grade. At the time, during midget football, we got new uniforms and helmets,” Datz said. “I needed a single number for the position we were registered as. On the same day, the high school players got their jerseys. My brother took number 7, so I did the same.”
Datz said his brothers Dakota and Shane have made a significant impact on his football career.
“They taught me a lot about the game, especially reading defenses and being disciplined with my mechanics,” Datz said. “They motivated me to be better than them.”
Through every football game of his time as a Scottie, Datz wore the number 7 on his back. But to him, 7 is not just a number.
“My aunt (Lee Roycroft) told me (after the Beaver Falls game) that one of the visiting team’s fans said to her, not knowing she is related to me, ‘That 7 is a real dynamic player’ or something along those lines,” Datz said. “Not that a jersey number defines a player, but I feel that people just ultimately describe me with the number.”
Max Zimmerman, linebacker on the team and one of Datz’s close friends, has played sports with the quarterback for his entire life, even though Zimmerman has played on the team for only two years.
“He takes pride in his school, his team, and his number,” Zimmerman said. He added that when Datz kept the jersey on, “It showed how much perseverance he had to take so many hits and stay in the game, especially with the same ripped jersey.”
Datz said that he isn’t focused just on his individual play but that he’d “run through a wall” for his team, win or lose.
“Part of the game is about having an ego and playing with a chip, and that’s how I aim to play,” Datz said. “I want to stand out and play my best game, but I do it so it’s swayed to help my team be successful.”
Datz said he plans on continuing to play football through college. But as for playing as the number 7 in college, he plans to stick with it.
“I thought about actually choosing a different number to start off new and different,” Datz said. “But I don’t think I’m going to do that. If (7) is an option, I’ll take it.”