"There's no such thing as can't in our household," says Joe's father, Don, a shipping manager for an automobile tool manufacturing company. "Joe might have to do something differently from someone else, but he'll find a way to do it."
His desire to play varsity football was inevitable. After all, the Scheid family is to Royal Oak football what changing leaves are every autumn to the trees that surround Dondero High Field. Mary Lou and her daughter Erica, 14, clean the team jerseys. Don assists the team trainers on the sidelines during games. Joe's older brother, Jeff, 19, a sophomore at Oakland ( Mich.) Community College, earned Dondero honors as a wingback in 1995, and little brother, Andy, 11, is a water boy.
Joe, who is Dondero's smallest player, at 5'6" and 130 pounds, quickly earned his teammates' approval. "In our first scrimmage I threw him a nine-yard curl, and after catching it, he broke a tackle and went 25 yards for a touchdown," says senior quarterback Nate Dixon, who connected with Joe twice this season for 20 yards. "After that we knew he could do it. He didn't catch more passes this year only because of his size. He'd be open a lot, but I couldn't find him behind all the bigger defenders."
The coaches were so won over by Joe's feistiness as a blocker that whenever he was flagged for holding, they would holler, "Hey, ref, which hand was it?" They also loved his unassuming manner. After misplaying a ball either as a receiver or in his other role, as a backup cornerback, Joe would approach McElroy and say earnestly, "Sorry, I could only get one hand on it."
About the only person unimpressed by Joe is Joe himself. "People always tell me that I'm an inspiration," he says. "I just think of myself as someone chasing his dreams to play football. That's all."