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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A South Jersey athlete is having a perfect season on the field despite some trying times off the field.
As a kicker, you dream of hitting a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock.
But for Sean Carey, making that dream a reality was about overcoming the biggest obstacle of his life.
The Mainland Regional High School kicker is perfect. He has not missed all year.
“I’m 23 for 23 in extra points, seven for seven [in] field goals,” said Sean. “And I have five touchbacks, if that matters,” said Sean.
In the regular season finale, Sean did something few could have imagined. The senior hit a 41-yard game-winning field goal to lift Mainland over their biggest rival, Ocean City High School.
That victory gave them a share of the division title and a spot in the playoffs.
But, it hasn’t always been easy. Sean told Eyewitness News how difficult it can be to get loose for kicks like that.
“I used to do yoga, it’s mainly to hit all the points. I have a lot of muscles in my hips that I need to make sure are loose,” said Sean.
Sean says that routine is necessary because of what he’s gone through.
“May 2015 I was diagnosed with cancer, coming out of my eighth-grade year actually,” said Sean.
Sean was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a bone cancer, in his right hip.
Doctors told Sean he would never kick again.
“I had surgery in August of 2015, so I obviously didn’t play football. And yeah, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to play again, that was scary,” said Sean.
Mainland Head Coach Chuck Smith met Sean in the weight room in 2016 as he pushed himself to get back to the field.
“It was just a pleasure watching him go through that because that was the end of his treatments,” said Smith. “And just to watch it from that stage where he was then to where he is now is remarkable.”
“It was just a crazy journey back, at times I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Sean.
Coach Smith beams about how remarkable Sean is and what he’s meant to his school and beyond.
“Sean always talks about how the community has helped him, he’s helped us. Because we look at him and say, if this kid did this and he overcame that, we can all do it. If it’s that hard to run that extra lap in practice, that hard to do the extra reps in the weight room, that hard to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to go and lift. He went through a heck of a lot more than that and look where he is today,” said Smith.
On Wednesday, Sean will kick in his final game at Mainland and it’ll be a feeling he never forgets.
“My past two seasons we were 1-9, I was doing that great. But the whole team just came together. This senior class has become a family. We’ve been a family. But we’ve just strengthened our bond together. And I’m gonna remember this team forever,” said Sean.