Will Lambley was emerging as a talented wide receiver and defensive back on the Rejoice Christian football team his sophomore year.
The Eagles finished 13-1, advancing to the state semifinal game. It was after that game that something changed.
"I don't remember who told me, but it was towards the end of the game that somebody came over and told me that Will was having trouble seeing," says head football coach Brent Marley. "He was having trouble seeing the scoreboard. Come to find out, he was looking up at the scoreboard, and the scoreboard was blurry."
"Beginning of December last year, I started noticing I was losing some vision," Lambley said.
When Lambley's dad noticed him sitting unusually close to his computer screen, he took him to an eye doctor. Eventually, Will ended up at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
"Within like two hours in Baltimore, they figured out what it was," Lambley said.
Doctors diagnosed Lambley with Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. It's an extremely rare, inherited condition that affects roughly one out of 50,000 people, causing the death of cells in the nerve that relays information from the eyes to the brain. In short, Lambley was going blind.
"I was shocked. It bothered me. It hurts," Marley said. "I feel like these guys are my guys. I've got three boys of my own, but he's one of my young men."
"I think I took the news pretty well because I knew there was power in prayer, and I knew everyone had been praying for me," Lambley said.
So, it was time to adjust. Baseball was Lambley's first love, and that career had to come to an end. It turns out, football was a different story.
"There was never a moment in my mind that I wasn't playing football," Lambley said.
Dealing with advanced vision loss, Lambley still wanted to play football. But how?
"I wasn't necessarily thinking outside of the box, initially," said Marley. "We graduated a senior nose guard last year who was undersized. Well, Will's 5-feet, 10-inches, 5-feet, 11-inches (tall), about 175 pounds. He's strong in the weight room, though. He's feisty. Let's put him at nose."
Nose guard is the middle of the defensive line. The average Division III nose guard weighs about 85 pounds more than Lambley.
"I love it. Just dive in there and make a pile," Lambley said. "The ball will be right in front of me, so I can see the ball out of my peripheral and whenever I see it go, that's when I go."
Marley said people often ask him if Lambley will play.
"He's gonna play," Marley said.
In a situation that would put most people on the bench, Lambley took a different approach.
"What God's really shown me is, you have an opportunity to play football. So, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to sit there and watch them, or are you going to go out there and play with them?" asked Lambley.
Lambley's story has reached the next level, too. He's an Arkansas fan and got invited to speak to the Razorbacks this year. Coach Chad Morris called Lambley an inspiration.
"He's just like a beacon of light for our program," Marley said.
"I can still do everything everyone else can do; I just have to find a different way to do it," Lambley said. "I've never been more excited for a football season than this."