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Ten 10 MaxPreps stories from fall of 2012

Jan 2, 2013 Pick a story, any story.

The fall was full with meaty, newsworthy, fun, heartwarming and heartbreaking ones. Here are 10 of the best of what we told in the fall of 2012, with the first few paragraphs of each story as the text. You can click at the end of each to read the entire individual stories.

1. Derrick Henry breaks national career rushing record
Photo by Gray Quetti

The remarkable Derrick Henry en route to his record-breaking night in November.

Overload right, 24 blast. That was the play call for Derrick Henry to secure a first down for Yulee (Fla.) High School early in the second quarter Friday night.

Turned out, it was the call and the play that secured history.

Photo by Gray Quetti

Derrick Henry enjoying the moment.

For 59 years, hundreds of thousands of prep running backs from every corner of the country have tried to run down Sugarland, Texas legend Ken Hall and finally after the 1,257th carry of his high school career, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior manchild they call "Shocka" passed him.

In vintage Henry form, the Alabama recruit broke past two perfectly-positioned would be tacklers, stiff-armed another and sprinted the final 40 yards untouched completing a 52-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes, 16 seconds left in the second quarter that broke the national career rushing yardage record during a 41-26 Florida 4A first-round playoff win Friday night.

At 7:46 p.m., on a cool and breezy 50-degree night on the Northern tip of Florida, just outside of Jacksonville, 11 miles south of the Georgia border, 839 miles east of Sugarland, and once a stratosphere from reality, a new rushing king was crowned. Hall's magical landmark total of 11,232 yards set from 1950 to 1953 went poof.

When asked what went through his mind when he crossed the goal line, Henry, a thoughtful, humble sort, took a big giant sigh.

"It's over," said Henry after the game while surrounded by reporters, fans, friends and family. "I was happy to get it and to get a little rest. But I knew I had to get out there and help my teammates win a game."

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2. John McKissick wins 600th game
Photo by Doug Rogers

John McKissick is raised to the shoulders of his players following his 600th win.

The prep coaching orbit of Summerville (S.C.) head coach John McKissick has entered a new galaxy with his team’s 37-21 win over Ashley Ridge (3-7) Friday night.

The Green Wave (6-4) amassed 361 yards on 65 plays as the three-time national High School Coach of the Year won his 600th career game before 10,000 fans. No other coach at any level of football has won as many games. Coach McKisisck says he has no plans to retire and 18 starters will return next season.

After the milestone win the 86-year old McKissick (600-148-13) gave the credit to his players.

“It feels good to win and if totals up to 600 that’s great,” he said. “I am real proud of the way our team played tonight and I am happy for my players. I have had enough recognition already for myself so I am glad to see them play well on such a big stage. I am proud of the way our players played tonight.
“They can tell their kids one day that they were part of the 600th win so I am happy for my players. Our community and school administration is real suppertime of athletics at Summerville and I am just proud to have been a part of the program for all these years. Football is such a great American game and teaches young people so much about life in general.”

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3. Prep sensations picked as top 2012 Female Athletes

Two high school girls finished 1-2 in balloting for the Associated Press U.S. Female Athlete of the Year.

Getty images

Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas won top honors with 48 of 157 votes from a panel of AP sports editors throughout the U.S.  A home-schooled sophomore from Virginia Beach, Va., she captured the all-around gymnastics gold medal during the 2012 London Olympics.  Still just 16 years old, Douglas also helped the U.S. women win the team gold medal for only the second time in history.

She is the fourth U.S. woman and the first African-American woman to win the coveted all-around Olympic gold medal. Her efforts also helped the youthful Americans win the Olympic team championship at the London Olympics.

Douglas is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., but has been living in West Des Moines, Iowa while working with Chow Gymnastics, which has also produced another standout Olympian, Shawn Johnson.

Missy Franklin, a senior at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.), was just seven votes behind in second place. She won four swimming gold medals during the 2012 London Olympics.

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4. Blind football player scores a touchdown

Since losing most of his sight seven years ago, Braddock (Miami) junior Davonte Pollard said his other senses have intensified enormously.

Photo by Stuart Browning

Davonte Pollard, Braddock

Through touch, the 16-year-old can read - "I learned Braille within two months," he said proudly – and make music. He plays the guitar and piano.

His voice is loud and clear – he sings and raps and one day hopes to be the next Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles. He can also say the name of the inherited, degenerative eye disease that took his sight — "Retinitis pigmentosa" — with perfect diction and pronunciation.

Pollard's greatest sense, he says, is hearing.
"I can be on one side of the gym and hear what someone is whispering on the other," he said.

But Pollard thought his ears were playing tricks Sept. 27 when he heard Braddock football coach Frank Rojas yelling his name on the sideline.

It was the final seconds of the Bulldogs' homecoming game with archrival Coral Park and 5,000 fans filled the stands.

"I was stretching and the next thing I know I heard ‘Davonte is going in,'" Pollard said.

At that point, Pollard thought it was some sort of dream. He recalled his stream of consciousness: "No. Davonte who? Nah, nah, nah, it can't be me. He's probably calling someone in the stands."

This was no dream. Pollard, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound legally blind running back, was going into a varsity football game to carry the ball against 11 fully sighted, angry Coral Park players who were trailing 35-20.

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5. Will Grier throws for 837 in team's 104-80 victory

Both Davidson Day (Davidson, N.C.) and Harrells Christian Academy (Harrells) coaches said they expected a high-scoring football game Friday night. But 184 points? Eight hundred and 37 passing yards from one player? A total of 1,641 yards?

Preposterous. Ridiculous. Unfathomable.

Courtesy photo

Will Grier, Davidson Day

But it was all true and then some in host Davidson Day's 104-80 North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 2 semifinal victory on Friday night.

"It was Play Station stuff," Davidson Day coach Chad Grier said Saturday morning.

Yes, the two teams alone combined for more points than four NBA games on Friday night. It wasn't the highest scoring game in history — according to the NFHS record book, eight teams alone have scored more than 184 in a single game (all before 1930 however) — but the four-hour contest definitely kept score keepers scrambling and left stat keepers exhausted.

Not to mention the players and coaches.

"I don't really have good words to describe it," Grier said. "If I didn't see it myself, I probably would not have believed it. I just feel it's unbelievable."

Grier said that as his team reached 60, 70, 80 then 90 points, he kept asking good friend and defensive coordinator Dave Serepca if that would be enough to win the game.

"When we got to 104, I told him (tongue in cheek) if that wasn't enough he was fired," Grier said.

Many stars emerged from all the offensive explosions.

The biggest no doubt was Davidson Day 6-foot-3, 192-pound junior quarterback Will Grier, who completed 35 of 42 for a national record 837 yards. It was originally reported he threw for 774 but after an exhaustive review of tape Saturday morning it was revealed he went for 63 yards more.

The coach's son bettered the national record of 764 set in 2000 by Pacific Palisades quarterback David Koral.

But Grier's mark will likely never be recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Associate director John Gillis told MaxPreps that records are only listed in the national book if a member state accepts them, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association does not recognize any efforts recorded by a member of the NCISAA.

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6. Blind runner crosses line with seeing eye dog
Courtesy photo

Sami Stoner with her seeing-eye dog Chloe are fan favorites wherever they run.

Sami Stoner, a creative, outdoorsy and studious sort, never imagined herself a homecoming princess.

But there she sat, in front of the entire student body of 900 at the Lexington (Ohio) High auditorium last Friday, dressed in sequins, jewelry and fitted, flowing formal attire.

On her lap was a covered box filled with three roses, and if colored red, she would be crowned the queen, a fact completely lost to the humble 17-year-old senior who simply took in the moment.

"It was all so incredible," she said. "I never dreamed of such a thing."

But how could she? How could she have fathomed any of the last four years?

As an eighth-grader she was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease, a hereditary form of macular degeneration that causes irreversible blindness. Stoner can see slightly peripherally, but everything straight ahead is dark and blurry.

At 14, she considered what her sightless life would miss – driving a car, career choices, images of her family's faces – but chose to focus and build on the gifts she still had: Strong legs. Healthy lungs. A kind and courageous heart. And most important, a voice.

Though sweet and soft, she used the latter to voice her one true passion in life – the ability to run. And run far.

She had gone out for cross country earlier in the year "and fell in love with it," Stoner said. "It just allows you to clear your mind, sort through life. It's peaceful and relaxing and constant."

Simply, she wouldn't give that up. "If you love something enough, you'll find a way," she said.

That decision began her four-year high school cross country career and an unfathomable path.

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7. Trent Bauer goes from mascot to starting QB

From football mascot to starting quarterback in seven weeks - even Hollywood would balk at turning that script into a movie.

Courtesy photo

Trent Bauer, Dunbar

But that's the truly incredible story of Trent Bauer, a junior at Dunbar (Lexington, Ky.).

Let's call it "The Trent Bauer Story" and begin with Dunbar's season opener, a lopsided 45-6 loss to Eastern (Louisville, Ky.). Wearing the outfit of the team mascot, a bulldog, Bauer had done everything he could to put life into the rather lethargic crowd. He even stumbled and fell twice on the bleachers - on purpose - in hopes of creating some chatter.

The next school day, Bauer approached coach Derrick Thomas and asked if he could join the team as a player. He had many friends on the team and they had been recruiting him since the previous year - even though he had not played organized football since he was 10 years old.

"I thought, maybe, I could help out in some way," Thomas said.

Thomas, who is slowly resurrecting the Dunbar program, was a little skeptical at first because Bauer actually had tried out the previous spring but quit after just a few days.

"He kind of hung up his cleats and walked away," Thomas said.

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8. Jacob Rainey takes the field

In a remarkable feat of determination and triumph over tragedy, Woodberry Forest (Va.) quarterback Jacob Rainey returned to the football field in a 28-19 loss to Benedictine (Richmond, Va.).

Photo by Clarence Thomas

Jacob Rainey, Woodberry

Rainey, a highly-touted quarterback prospect entering last fall, broke his knee in a scrimmage on Sept. 3 of last year. A severed artery and other complications forced doctors to amputate part of his right leg.

Through a rehabilitation process that included well wishes from the likes of Tim Tebow and Nick Saban, Rainey was penciled in as a starter for the team's season opener.

On Friday morning, Rainey had a message for those who did not expect to see him take the field again.

"Big shout out to every person, doctor or journalist that doubted me and said this day would never come. I'm here," he said on Twitter.

"You don't hear, a year later, somebody losing their leg and coming back to be starting quarterback," teammate Phillip Berry told the Daily Progress before the game. "He is definitely a hero in my eyes."

Rest of story and photo gallery

9. A 21-year-old busted for playing high school football

The expression "a man among boys" came true for the Mt. Pleasant (Mich.) football team after it was discovered that a 21-year-old man played four games for the school this fall.

According to the Morning Sun, 21-year-old James Nash fraudulently transferred into the school district under the alias Javier Jones and took the lie all the way to the gridiron.

Acting on a tip, the school district investigated and discovered that Nash had forged documents to cover up his age.

As of Friday, Mt. Pleasant had already removed Nash from its football roster.

The school is awaiting word from the MHSAA as to whether it will have to forfeit the games in which Nash played. The organization has never dealt with such a case.

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10. Austin Rehkow kicks 67-yard field goal

Austin Rehkow loaded up and connected on a field goal from the 43-yard line in the final seconds Thursday night. That's pretty significant.

What made Rehkow's kick spectacular in a 62-55 overtime win for Central Valley (Veradale, Wash.) over Shadle Park (Spokane, Wash.) is that he kicked it from his own 43-yard line, not the opponent's.

The 67-yard field goal came up 1 yard short of Dirk Borgognone's epic 68-yard connection in 1985 for Reno (Nev.). But as you can tell by the videos below, it didn't come up short in terms of excitement generated - not to mention just how clutch it was.

The connection is now tied for second-longest in history with Russ Cowsert (1987) of Dallas Christian and Rusty Curry (1999) of Duluth (Ga.), according to the NFHS Record Book.

The kick obliterated the state record of 62 yards, and that record had stood since 1929.

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