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Colorado QB continues to play despite being legally blind

Jonathan Wall
Prep Rally

If there's one position in football that requires you to be alert at all times, it's quarterback. Aside from having to find the open receiver once the ball is hiked, you also have to keep your eyes on opposing defenders coming at you from all angles.

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Standley Lake (Colo.) High quarterback Rhett Gutierrez knows exactly what it's like to deal with the pressure of playing the most difficult position on the field. But unlike most signal-callers, Gutierrez has to deal with another issues when he goes under center, and that's playing quarterback while being legally blind.

As the Denver Post pointed out in a recent article, Gutierrez suffers from Stargardt disease, which is also known as the junior form of Macular Degeneration. The disease has caused him to lose most of his sight, to the point that he's now considered legally blind.

Despite the setback, Gutierrez has been learning Standley Lake's shotgun offense this season, relying on his knowledge of predetermined routes to help him find the open receiver, or hand the ball off to the running back. Even though the disease has been frustrating at times, it hasn't stopped Gutierrez from continuing to play sports and keep a positive attitude.

"If you get a retinal disease, you want this," Gutierrez told the Denver Post. "It [stinks], but it could be way worse."

He helped the junior varsity team win three games this season, and managed to throw for two touchdowns in the process. And when given the opportunity recently to play a role as varsity quarterback, Gutierrez managed to hand the ball off to a teammate during the waning minutes of the game.

It was a moment that had his teammates going crazy on the sidelines for Gutierrez, who was also named a unanimous team captain of Standley Lake's football team this season.

"It was exciting, and we were so happy for him," teammate John Dean told the Denver Post said of the Gutierrez's chance to play varsity quarterback. "We all were freaking out on the sidelines. ... He's the best role model ever."

After getting his first taste of varsity football, you can be sure he wants to get back on the field as soon as possible. For a kid as sharp as Gutierrez, you can just tell that the next time the opportunity does arise, he's going to make the most of it.

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