Must-read in Friday's AJC

A special report: Because of a debilitating disease, one beloved high school coach is struggling to make it through each game. But his undefeated team is standing with him – and he with them.

The first symptom of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, appeared in the coach’s thumb.

As a player in high school, and later in college, the coach had experienced all the usual nagging pains that come with the game.

This time, however, the pain wouldn’t go away. During the next 18 months, he began feeling numbness in both arms from his fingertips to his elbows. Soon, the muscles in his forearms began deteriorating.

"It progressed to the point where you could see bones in his hand and arms because the muscle structure was going away,” remembered the team’s defensive coordinator: “We just kept praying that it would be something the doctors would be able to cure."

But there is no cure.

The disease has stolen his strength. A former quarterback, the coach can no longer throw a football. A golf cart carries him onto the field. By the end of a Friday night game, he is often so fatigued that he must lean on his players. The disease slurs his speech. Now, an assistant coach stands near him to "echo" his play calls to the team.

Yet, through each game this season, he’s stood on the sidelines, leading and inspiring his football team. So far, they’ve won every game this season – a perfect 10-0, with five shutouts – for the coach they love.

For more on this inspiring story, be sure to pick up Friday’s AJC.