Ten members of Britton-Hecla’s state championship football team attended the Sioux Falls Argus Leader Sports Awards event at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls last week Wednesday. The team’s recovery of a fumble and Skylar MacConnell’s ensuing touchdown in the title game (above)
was tied for first with a Dell Rapid lastsecond basket as the Play of the Year. From left to right are Nathan Dahme, Kyler Meyer, Tyson Morris, Preston Jones, Chad Lang, Nick Nelson, Trevor Zuehlke, Jory Flanery, Carter Deutsch, and Skylar MacConnell.
Play Of The Year
Many watching the Class 9A football championship game in the Dakota Dome last fall weren’t quite sure of what they had just seen.
The Braves’ MVP, Tayon Hawkins, had just ripped off a big gain but had the ball poked loose and it bounced toward the sideline. But Skylar MacConnell proved to be in the right place at the right time, scooping up the loose ball and falling into the end zone to tie the contest. Britton-Hecla went on to win in overtime.
That improbable play was one of three nominees for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader’s Play of the Year covering all sports in the state, and last week Wednesday the play was recognized as the co-winner with a last-second tying basketball shot by Dell Rapids.
Ten B-H players and Assistant Coach Rick Couch traveled to the Sioux Falls Pentagon for the Argus Leader Sports Awards that recognized players and teams of the year, in addition to recognizing the top plays. Former Green Bay Packer receiver now with the Oakland Raiders, Jordy Nelson, was the featured speaker for the event.
The Play of the Year was a new award given this year by the Sioux Falls newspaper. Winners were selected by voting on Twitter.
“It was a very prestigious event,” said Couch of the black-tie gala. “They had the red carpet laid out and took pictures of the athletes as they entered. Some of the athletes were interviewed and those interviews were broadcast live into the arena. It really made the kids feel special and was a very fun and exciting experience. I had never been to an awards show like that before.”
Senior Preston Jones said he wasn’t really surprised when the Britton-Hecla play was one of the winners.
“We were kind of thinking we had the best play out of everybody. When they were showing the plays everybody was kind of talking about ours and were a little quieter for the others. It was just a really cool event with all the top athletes from across South Dakota.”
MacConnell, who returned fumbles for touchdowns three times this season, has developed the nickname of “Scoop” for his exploits. Teammates elected him to accept the award.
Both Couch and Jones struggled to find words to really describe the play.
“”I wish I could say something clever like the “Immaculate Reception,” but to me the key to that play was hustle,” said Couch. “The focus was on Skylar because he made the final play, but it is really a team award.
“With so many teams you see linemen take a play off once the runner is past the line, but our linemen prided themselves on downfield blocking and pursuing and were always around the ball. When you are around the ball good things happen, and this was a very good example of that and a tribute to their hustle.”
Couch said he has watched the play in slow motion dozens of times.
“It was so close. One of the Corsica-Stickney players had a great opportunity to recover it, and that would have been a killer for us to have them get the ball on the twoyard line with time running down. And then one of their kids had Skylar’s feet wrapped up but he fell backwards into the end zone.”
“I can’t even describe that play,” added Jones. “When it happened I didn’t even know what was going on.”
But when “The Play” was deemed as the best of the year it became one more chapter in the team’s story of success this season, both on and off the field.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of how the guys acted and carried themselves,” said Couch. “They all wore their championship rings and were just very classy and acted like they belonged. They were just very proud.
“Players on our team have joined an elite club. Just a handful of athletes around the country actually achieve this goal of winning a state title each year and on the way home they were reminiscing and jabbering. It is something they will carry with them forever.”