Football banquet: C Pridemore takes top honor

Bison Blinds

photos and story by Sydney Scheer

Officially closed. The 2016 LHS Football Season concluded with a banquet on the evening of Saturday, January 28. Each sport gets its own banquet this year, instead of one long one at the end of the school year. More than 120 Lions, their families and biggest fans turned out for the evening that featured a lasagna dinner, reflection, awards and homework.

Coach Michael Voss led the prayer before the water girls and families, then seniors, juniors, sophomore, and freshmen were served dinner. Thank you Coach Voss for your blessing!

The Luther Touchdown Club decorated the tables in the commons area of the high school. It was simple enough for boys (men), yet featured just enough flair (for mothers) to celebrate the Boys of Fall. School spirit for the Lions is ALWAYS in season. Touchdown Club President Tracey Pridemore, so beloved by the football community, held a raffle for winning ticket holders to take home centerpieces of balloons and football-themed Mason jars for mementos. Awesome. A special “thank you” to the TD Club members for their tireless work every season, and for seasons to come.

Thank you to Scott and Kandyce Mitchell, (Joey’s folks who are kind of a big deal in the media!) for their work to provide the lasagna, salad, rolls, and all of the fixin’s, including brownie bites and Red Velvet mini-cupcakes. Dinner was delicious. Mrs. Mitchell served with Mrs. Shelton, THE Luther Register. That woman is busy and rocks! Dessert was just as tasty as dinner! Thank you!

Coach Zack Smith

Now for the good part. Opening guest speaker, Mr. Bruce Wilson. He has history and legacy in Luther Town. He, himself, was a Lion, then served as principal and superintendent for Luther Public Schools. You are sure to find Mr. Wilson in the bleachers at any Lion sporting or educational event, or any other extra-curricular festivities. His reminded the crowd it takes a village to raise a child, and also a football program! He said Luther has created a tight village. HIs benediction sought a blessing for any and all people under the football lights (at Wilson Field) on Friday nights. Mr. Geoffrey Agan was thanked for running concessions and devoting his time to the efforts. Middle school Principal Barry Gunn and high school Principal Jerry Martin were thanked for their leadership. Nods also went for those who provide security including Luther PD, those who work the field, run the front gate, provide custodial help. The fire department, with their engines, parked south of the field,  announce every touchdown with sirens blaring and lights flashing – thanks! There were thanks to the water girls, the TD club, the sound booth workers such as Brian “The Voice of the Lions” Wilson, Alan Booher, Mr. Wilson himself, and others. More people thanked were the “chain gang,” the band, and cheerleaders, and finally the parents. Thank you, Mr. Bruce Wilson, for your dedication to the Luther Lions.
Head Coach Zack Smith took center stage to open the awards segment of the program. Like Mr. Wilson, Coach Smith thanked all the people involved to make Friday night home football games possible. The Touchdown Club was, of course, number one to thank. Without the TD Club, the football team would have had insufficient funds to compete and compete (remember that Charter Bus everyone pitched in on to take the players to a playoff game?).The TD Club logged countless hours for the 2016 season and through all three rounds of the playoffs. Playoffs payoff, no matter your position. Smith also touched on how well this community works together, and how much support he feels from the town. He said that after 14 years of coaching, Luther is different and special to him. Welcome to the family, coach!

Coach Smith presented the sideline staff with appreciation gifts. Each water girl received a hoodie sweatshirt, with a logo designed by WG Jessica Madera!  The last names of each girl was printed on the reverse side.

Coach Smith then brought all football players to center stage. In reference to a book, The Energy Bus by Jon Cordon, he shared a memorable mentor moment with the crowd.  “You are your own bus driver. You are the only person who will decide if you will get up and go to work,” Smith said. The book is so important with its advise and “life hacks,” Coach Smith paired two players to share a copy of the book, and gave them a deadline of May 15 to get it read and write a book report. That day marks the first day of Spring Football. That’s right. A book report. YES!

Two players received the Outstanding Freshman of the Year award:  #6 Tyler Becker for his “great natural ability,” and #25 Reed Wilson for his hard desire to “go to work” on the field every day. Congrats, freshmen!

Heart and Hustle. The kid who gave it all and didn’t want anything for it. For the love of football, Jace Wilson earned the Heart and Hustle award for giving 110% or more at all times. Coach Smith talked highly of this #11 junior. Hard work gets recognized, Jace! Way to go!

The Lineman of the Year. A senior award for the guy who is part of the most important group to keep the quarterback safe. The linemen truly set the stage for how a football team wins. #50 Tyler Leftwich led the offensive and defensive lines not only to keep the quarterback safe, but to execute plays all the way to the third round of playoffs. Leftwich is also going to be signing his letter of intent on Wednesday, February 1st in the high school library to Northeastern Oklahoma University. Leftwich also received an All-State recognition for class 2A. Congrats, Tyler!

D-E-F-E-N-S-E. The most valuable players on defense were honored by their hard work on and off the field. Mental toughness and hustle for the whole defensive team kept each game for the opponent under 250 yards to score on. The is one of the lowest in the state:

#22 Jesse Cole received the 1st Defensive MVP Award for his hard work and desire for the game of football. Jesse played his first year of high school football as a junior for the 2016 season, and showed the town just how much he loved the game. Coach Smith said Jesse is not scared to knock the snot out of the opponent. Literally. Slobber-slinging tackles are fun to watch. Cole had about 114 tackles on the season. Go, Jesse!

#26 Josh Butler received the 2nd Defensive MVP player of the year for his great statistics to the coaching eye. Butler had about 24 tackles for loss, and 118 tackles total for the season, as well as some yards on offense. Butler had a position change mid-season, but he seems to have prospered with it. The crowd loves a quarterback sac for a loss of yards in Lion territory, and Butler knew just what to do. Thank you, Josh, for your hard work and love of the game! Congrats!

On offense, the MVP is #24 Dakota Pridemore. With his amazing stats, D Pridemore is a treasure to the Luther Lions. On top of being the team’s offensive MVP,  Pridemore was recognized for All-City Punt Returner of the Year. Congrats, “DP!” We love seeing your heart shine!

Lastly, but certainly not least, the biggest award of the evening. The 2016 Luther High School Heisman trophy winner for his keen ability to handle a football. This Heisman winner for Luther received All-Around MVP while breaking the record for the most wins in school history, at about 32 as starting quarterback, and almost 100 touchdowns. This winner is a senior, and we are surely sad to see him move on to college where he’ll no doubt lead again. The man with the football, #12 Chad Pridemore, took the trophy home for the 2016 season. Season concluded. Officially.

In the end, the players led a “Happy Birthday” song to Coach Zhermayne Hopkins, and the TD Club handed him a cake. “Happy Birthday, Coach Z!”

Mrs. Tracy Pridemore concluded with the mention of scheduling a Touchdown Club meeting for new officers. She will be stepping down as president, as her son, Chad Pridemore will graduate. All parents of middle school and high school football players are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting to be held sometime in the spring.

There is no offseason. Playoffs make it payoff. 106 days before Spring Ball kicks off on May 15!

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