The Grove Ridgerunners are currently undefeated and in the quarterfinals of the State Playoffs. One player that’s helped them reach this point is Ridgerunner running back Emmanuel Crawford.

For anybody that has seen Grove’s Emmanuel Crawford play, they know the kind of player he is on the field, but what they maybe don’t know about is that his journey started halfway around the world in the country of Ghana.

Emmanuel Crawford said, “So, it started started in Lake Volta, Ghana, which is a big lake over there. And there’s a lot of problems with child trafficking, trafficking and just, you know, child slavery over there. And I got sold into it at age two. And I got rescued at age four. My parents came along and God had been telling them you need, you need a son and I know exactly where you can find him. And I can just remember the day when I met them, it was just, it was just a wonderful moment of just peace and joy. And it’s made it very evident, like even from a young age like there is a God out there and he’s looking out for me.”

Ever since Emmanuel stepped on a football field, his family and himself knew he was meant to play football and had a passion for this game.

“You know, he would make these incredibly long runs and make the other kids look kind of silly. And I thought, eventually that would stop but the next time the next year and the next year, he’s doing the same thing. And I finally said, Well, he’s pretty good at this,” said Dr. Stan Crawford.

Emmanuel Crawford mentioned, “I would say probably from the very beginning, I would say. And then, you know, I got injured in eighth grade and that’s when it was kind of like, is this worth it or not? But then when I came back freshman year and was able to play against Miami for homecoming, and I think I had scored three touchdowns that night. And it was like, wow, this is this is awesome. This is this is you know, this is where I want to be. This is what I want to do with my life right now. So that’s what kind of changed it for me. It just gave me the energy to keep going.”

Now there have been a lot of people that have helped Emmanuel on this journey, but one believed to have played a vital role for Emmanuel is Coach Rick Trimble.

“One of the real vital people that I watched change the attitude that Emanuel had because he had the skills and was coach Rick Trimble. And what a difference he made. He was such a difference maker in Emmanuel’s attitude, in the team’s attitude,” said Dr. Audrey Crawford.

As much as an impact Emmanuel plays on the field, it’s the impact he makes on little kids and fans in stands watching him and the Ridgerunners do their thing on Friday nights.

“As we were walking down to the field, and you know there’s a thousand little kids, like Eman, Eman, I love you Eman, that’s like, wow, that is such an amazing feeling as you know you’re on, you’re on the football field, and you’re, you know, and you and your team are doing your thing but you don’t even realize how many people’s lives or nights you’re impacting by being out there and playing football and winning and you know, continuing to be humbled through it all, you set an example for everyone,” Crawford said.