Moments before he walked out onto the field for the first time in month, Fort Osage return man Jesse McBee looked to the heavens and said softly, "Grandpa, this one's for you."
Then, in a moment usually reserved for a Walt Disney movie, the junior broke free from a host of would-be North Kansas City tacklers and burst down the far sideline for a 75-yard touchdown.
"You couldn't have written a better script," said Indians running back Ezra Vaoifi, who rushed for 197 yards and scored two touchdowns. "We were all rooting for Jesse. We knew this was going to be a tough game for him, and he came through for us."
A year ago to the date, McBee's grandfather
"I've been thinking about Grandpa all day," said McBee, who was mobbed by his teammates after the 49-7 win. "It's hard to talk about him, but I love to talk about what he meant to me and my family and how much he loved Fort Osage football.
"I know that he's up in heaven watching the game and smiling."
His smile was probably equal to the one McBee sported as he walked off the field to a thunderous ovation from the Fort Osage faithful.
"It would have been an unbelievable play, if it had been anyone but Jesse," Indians coach Ryan Schartz said. "You just kind of felt like he was going to do something special tonight. But returning the opening kick in a district playoff game is pretty spectacular."
Just to be on the field was special for McBee, who had been sidelined for a month with a concussion.
"I was hoping to get back last week for the Belton game," McBee said, as he was surrounded by members of the offensive line and backfield. "But I still had the bad headaches
"We didn't want to rush it, so I knew I'd get an extra week of rest with the bye week. I felt great tonight, no headaches."
Just a lot of smiles and hugs.
"Jesse is the sweetest kid you could ever be around," said linebacker Nathan Iloilo, who had two interceptions in the rout. "You want him to succeed because he's such a great kid. We were all so excited when he ran that back."
Lineman Bryce Palmer agrees, adding, "I was on the sidelines watching, and I'm like, 'Oh, Jesse's going to score! Jesse's going to score!' We were all going crazy because we love Jesse. He's our brother, a member of the Fort Osage family."
The moment will forever be etched into the lore of Fort Osage football, and might help Jesse claim a spot alongside his brother, Steven McBee, who was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Indians.
"I know it has to be tough for Jesse to play in Stephen's shadow," Vaoifi said, "but tonight, he stepped out of the shadow and made a name for himself. He's not Steven's little brother anymore, he's Jesse McBee. And we love him."
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC