(CNN)As Joe Kennedy knelt to pray at the 50-yard-line Friday night he felt a presence around him.
And it grew.
The assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state was being joined by some of his opponents and fans — some of whom had come to the game to pray with him.
After the Knights’ homecoming loss to the Centralia Tigers, Kennedy walked to the middle of the football field, hoping to say his usual thanks to God by himself.
He had been told not to do it. The Bremerton School District had said if he prayed while on duty as a coach he would be violating federal law.
Kennedy, as he has done after most games for seven years, prayed anyway, defying the order. He opened his eyes to find a huge crowd of supporters around him.