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Senior Recognition Night is always exciting and emotional for the seniors and their families. But for one Tift County High School student, it was more overwhelming that he could have imagined.

When Senior Quarterback Ryan Wedgeworth took the field, escorted by his parents and step-parents, he expected to hear his name called, walk the field and hear the applause-just like it had been practiced. What he didn’t know was that his older brother Tyler, in from his deployment to the Middle East, was about to surprise the whole family.

ABH3 Tyler Wedgeworth, air warfare qualified, joined the Navy after his graduation from Tift County High School in 2010. His most recent deployment was to the Middle East where he has been for the last six months. Wedgeworth recently returned to the United States, but told his family he couldn’t come home to visit because he had to immediately redeploy-a white lie that set in motion a great surprise.

“The whole family was so upset and sad that we weren’t going to get to see each other. But I’ve never gotten to see Ryan play a varsity game, so my brother Dalan and I thought, what better way to finally get to one, than to surprise him at his last one?”

As Ryan’s name was announced during Senior Recognition just before the final game of the season, Tyler slowly crossed from the visitors’ to the home side of the football field, stopping behind Ryan and his parents. His arrival was announced, and the crowd went wild.

“It meant the world to me to be able to do this. I’ve missed his whole high school football career and so many activities of my other brothers and sister,” Tyler said. “I’m hoping this can make up for some of that.”

The Wedgeworths’ parents are Selena and Chad Branch and Tony and Stephanie Wedgeworth.