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11/28/2013 Bobcat gridders are honored; what was Play of the Year?

The Custer County Bobcats football team took time to look back and celebrate the 2013 season in a potluck chili dinner on Wednesday, November 20.

The night began with the capacity crowd getting a chance to vote on the Play-of-the-Year.

"This was a new tradition started this year," said head coach Troy Bomgardner. "We had the players and coaches nominate plays they felt were worthy of ‘Play-of-the-Year.’"

The crowd was shown each of the plays and then given a ballot to vote. The ballots were tallied and the Play-of-the-Year was an 85-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior Kody Aldrich.

"It was a tough list to choose from," Bomgardner said. "But Kody’s return was definitely an exceptional athletic play. He is going to be fun to watch next year."

Bomgardner took time to acknowledge athletic trainer Jamie Baker, statistician Mark Pedigo, and volunteer Chris Nordyke.

"Football takes a lot of people to pull it off and these folks do a great job assisting us in getting to game day and the little details during a game," commented Bomgardner.

First Team Tri-Peaks All League awards were presented to Tyler Havens and Casey Nordyke.

Second Team awards were presented to Kody Aldrich, Lane Byerly, TJ Flynn, Conner Rowley and CJ Virden.

Honorable mention awards were given to Willie Brandon, Josh Carter and Travis Stuart.

Bomgardner then recognized the Most Improved Player. The award was given to Willie Brandon and Josh Carter.

"All of our awards are special, but this is the only one voted on only by the coaches," noted Bomgardner. "We debated a long time and felt both Willie and Josh deserved recognition for their performances this year. They had great senior years."

The remaining awards were voted on by the players and coaches. Sophomore Sam Dunlap presented the Practice Player of the Year award. Dunlap was the 2012 Practice Player of the Year, and did a great job honoring this years’ winner, freshman Andrew Feldmann.

"Andrew only had one speed in practice and that was full go," said Bomgardner. "It was good to see the team recognize him for his effort."

Special Teams coach Gary Holycross presented the Special Teams Player of the Year by recognizing junior Kody Aldrich.

"Kody was an integral part of all of our units and made some big recovering on both the kickoff team and return team throughout the year," added Bomgardner.

Defensive coordinator Ross McGee then recognized junior CJ Virden with the Defensive Player of the Year award.

"CJ is a guy who plays hard all the time and was always around the ball. He made numerous outstanding defensive plays," said Bomgardner.

Bomgardner then honored junior Conner Rowley as the Offensive Player of the Year.

"When we lost Casey Nordyke in the fourth game of the season, Conner stepped up in a big, big way," Bomgardner said. "He was a workhorse and played his heart out for the Bobcats."

2013 Captains were recognized with a captain’s plague given to seniors TJ Flynn, Tyler Havens and Casey Nordyke.

"TJ, Tyler, and Casey were the foundation of our team and it was only fitting to recognize them in our last team meeting," said Bomgardner.

Prior to announcing the night’s biggest award, The Bobcat Award, Bomgardner took time to recognize the high school and middle school coaches.

"Our middle school coaches are so critical to our success at the high school level," said Bomgardner. "Jerry Durling and Jim Parkes did an outstanding job this year building a team and preparing them as our future Bobcat high school players."

Bomgardner also paid tribute to his high school assistant coaches Ross McGee and Gary Holycross.

"I couldn’t ask for coaches who are more loyal or committed to our program," boasted Bomgardner.

The Bobcat Award is the pinnacle award of the evening and is also voted on by players and coaches. The award signifies the player who represents the covenants of Bobcat football of Trustworthy, Respectful, Be Your Best, and Committed to Team.

Senior Tyler Havens was the 2013 Bobcat award winner.

"This award is really what we want our team to be about," said Bomgardner. "I only wish we could award it to a number of players because we have lots that represent the "Bobcat Code." However, there is no doubt that Tyler exemplifies our code in everything he does and his teammates recognized this."

In reflecting on the award later, Havens said, "The Lord has blessed me by growing up with a great family, a great mom along with great leaders that taught me the importance of commitment. I was also blessed to play with a great group of guys that felt I was worthy of this award. I hope I was able to set an example for the younger guys so they can do better than I did. Finally, I want to thank the coaching staff for pushing me to be my best."

In wrapping up the season, Bomgardner talked about his pride in this year’s team and how they overcame the adversity of losing a number of key players and yet they continued to compete throughout the season.

"Even in the games we lost," Bomgardner said, "I felt like we competed well. I had a number of people from the community tell me how they felt our kids never quit. To me that is one of the finest compliments a coach can receive. This may be our last 11-man team for awhile, it’s tough to say what CHSSA will do with the small school football, but we are very excited about next year and going to 8-man football.

"It will give us the opportunity to compete with other schools similar in size to us. It should be an exciting year!" said Bomgardner.

Letter award winners were recognized with the following, receiving a letter for their participation: seniors Willie Brandon, Lane Byerly, Josh Carter, TJ Flynn, Tyler Havens, Casey Nordyke, Manny Pedigo, and Travis Stuart, juniors Kody Aldrich, Adrian Bartell, Matt Hibbard, Conner Rowley, and CJ Virden, sophomores Sam Dunlap, Noah Tillotson, and Justin Walden, and freshman Andrew Feldmann.

Certificates of participation were given to sophomores Geoffroy Mellini and freshman Casey Brandon, Daniel Brinkley, Devon Hockoday, Tyler Howdeshell, Cody Lyons, Bryce Roscoe, and Ryan Young.