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Video proves record not broken, but officials won’t change it

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

For eight months, Broughton (N.C.) High quarterback Will Cooper has been able to call himself the all-time single-game passing-yards record holder for the state of North Carolina. Now, months after Cooper's 600-yard game, it turns out he might not have thrown for 600 yards after all … and that the record which has been in his name since October may not actually be his.

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Broughton quarterback Will Cooper

Broughton quarterback Will Cooper

In an in-depth, play-by-play video study of Cooper's performance against Wakefield (N.C.) High (in a 45-42 Broughton loss), the News & Observer broke down each and every Broughton offensive snap, eventually concluding that a whopping six plays that were originally counted as pass plays actually should have been recorded as rushing plays.

Those six plays accounted for a total of only 15 yards, but those 15 yards dropped Cooper's single-game mark into a tie for the state record … with former Charlotte (N.C.) Independence High superstar and Florida Gators national champion Chris Leak.

"[Losing the personal record] would disappoint me a little bit, but I still feel like I had a good game," Cooper told the News & Observer. "Chris Leak was an amazing quarterback. I have no idea how I got past him."

The entire episode began when a News & Observer reporter asked Wakefield coach J.D. Dinwiddie to comment on the record, with Dinwiddie responding that his team's stats didn't find Cooper's total to be record-breaking at all.

That sparked the video review which, the paper has now determined, show Cooper's totals as matching the previous mark set by Leak. The only video used in the paper's review of the record was a game film procured from Broughton coach Chris Martin.

While the News & Observer seems to have definitive proof that Cooper did not, in fact, break the state record, the North Carolina High School Athletics Association is refusing to watch video footage of the plays in question, instead insisting that Broughton's 600-yard game is an accurate state record. More incredible still, NCHSAA associate commissioner admits that he never actually watched the full game film that was submitted with the application for Broughton's mark to be an official record, instead turning it off after watching "most of the first quarter."

"I couldn't possibly go through the tape," he said.

As one might imagine, the lack of official accountability regarding an all-time state mark has left many fans in North Carolina -- and officials in other states -- both bewildered and perturbed.

"If you don't have integrity with records, don't have records," Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner Julian Tackett told the News & Observer.

As for Cooper himself, he's left with the awkward chore of responding to classmates and other football officials who routinely ask him about his state-record game. All he can say now is that he isn't sure if he broke Leak's mark after all.

"Well," the News & Observer reported Cooper tells those who ask, "I might not have broken it after all. There's been a debate."

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