Plenty of high school football players rely on heart to get results on the field. Pahrump Valley High School defensive tackle Kody Estep uses it, too. But he lacks something his opponents have – a right leg.
Still, many have no idea Estep does battle in the trenches with a prosthetic limb.
Estep recalled a recent encounter with an opponent from Durango High School.
"He's like, ‘Dude, I just wanna shake your hand because you are so talented, you're out here doing this. I've never had anybody beat me that many times before.'"
Some opponents think the 17-year-old senior is wearing a long pair of socks.
"They're (other coaches) amazed. They're absolutely amazed," said Pahrump Valley Head Coach Joe Clayton. "They say, ‘Gosh, I wish we had able-bodied kids that played like he did.'"
When he was just 8 years old, Estep lost his leg while jumping onto a moving train in North Dakota. He slipped on the train's steps and fell down to the track.
Following a period of depression, it was Estep and his father's shared love of football that turned his life around.
"That really, really helped me out once I realized that I could keep up with these guys. I started to realize maybe I could do more than keep up, maybe I might be better than a few of these guys," Estep said.
Estep began playing football in junior high school and worked his way to the varsity team at Pahrump Valley by his sophomore year. If there's a play he's not in, he's not happy about it.
"There's a couple times when coach would have to take me out to talk about something, but I can't stand it," Estep said.
Clayton said Estep is on the field because of his skill and his heart.
"Nobody focuses on his disability because he doesn't focus on it. He helps us or we wouldn't put him in there," Clayton said.
Estep plans on trying out for the UNLV football team next season. He's also pursuing a career in making prosthetic limbs.
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