ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Benton brothers are no strangers to Edgewood Academy’s football program. But last Friday, the youngest brother, Joseph, decided to pay homage to his guardian angel, and it couldn’t have played out more perfect.
“My brother, Jesse, when he graduated, he had always talked about passing a legacy down between brothers, and I’m always thinking about that in everything I do,” said Joseph, a senior defensive lineman at Edgewood.
Joseph’s brother, Jacob Benton, passed away in a car accident during his senior year of high school. He had been a beloved member of the Wildcats football team and was Joseph’s role model.
“Every game I play is for Jacob," said Joseph. "Losing a brother is hard, especially when you look up to him.”
Following his passing, the school decided to retire Jacob’s jersey and display it in the school.
A few weeks ago, Joseph decided he wanted to continue the family tradition of wearing his brother’s number – 69 – in the final home game of the year. However, Hurricane Zeta changed those plans, knocking out the school’s power and forcing the team to cancel the match.
But Wildcats head coach Chad Michael wanted to make sure Joseph still had the opportunity to honor his brother.
"I reached out to Joseph and his father about how can we still honor Jacob. They came back and said we want to unframe that jersey. And I said, ‘Man that’s outstanding; let’s do it, and give him the opportunity to honor his brother and their family honor their son.’ That was just a really awesome moment.”
Jacob’s presence was alive and well during the Wildcat’s first playoff game against Patrician Academy. Joseph made the game-winning play to help his team to a 35-34 victory, and if you add those together, You get the jersey number, 69. And the temperature outside at kickoff? 69 degrees. All in a game played just off, you guessed it - Route 69.
“I think there’s times in our life where, we call them God winks, and He just kinda winks down on us and says ‘Hey, I’m in control of this,’" said Michael. "I think this was definitely one, with the score being 69, Joseph making the last tackle, 69 degrees, all that stuff – it was just a little God wink for everybody.”
“It really showed he was looking down on us," added Joseph. "He’s my motivation on and off the field, and I’m always thinking about him, so being able to look down and see that 69 on my chest – that was awesome.”
The Wildcats will travel to Chambers Academy Friday nigh for the second round of the playoffs.