Team won’t line up for extra point in tribute to teammate

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Point after touchdown attempts tend to be the forgotten children of football games. Occasionally a missed point will be the difference in a tight game, or a blocked kick might even lead to a two-point return, but for the most part, extra points are an afterthought.

South Summit football
South Summit football

Perhaps that's what made the tribute turned in by the Kamas (Utah) South Summit High Wildcats during their 33-0 victory against Moab (Utah) Grand County High so touching. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, with the score at 26-0, the Wildcats refused to line up for the point-after attempt, instead pointing to the scoreboard.

They had scored 26 points, the number of recently paralyzed teammate Porter Hancock, who remains hospitalized following his injury on Oct. 7 during South Summit's 40-15 victory against Castle Dale (Utah) Emery High.

"I didn't know what we were even doing at first, but then I knew as soon as I looked," South Summit quarterback Matt Rydalch told the Tribune. "It's funny how that number keeps popping up -- last week we won by 26. It reminds us that we're staying strong for Porter."

While the game was a relatively one-sided affair, that was hardly the focus of the day. Instead, the attention was all focused on Hancock, who lay in a hospital bed miles away. Practically everyone on the Wildcats sideline had the number 26 written somewhere on their body or uniform. Proceeds from a silent auction and all other concessions at the game were donated to a fund which has been set up to help defray the cost of Hancock's medical bills.

And even though they were the overmatched opponent, Grand High donated $1,000 to the injured player's cause. South Summit's Thursday opponent was hardly alone among Utah schools stepping forward. Fittingly, across the state Heber City (Utah) Wasatch High and Park City (Utah) High were collecting funds at a game where formerly paralyzed football player Dale Lawrence stood up for the first time in public .

In all, it's believed that more than $60,000 has already been raised for Hancock in less than two weeks since his injury.

The focus at South Summit may shift slightly back toward the field as the playoffs roll on, but it's unlikely that Hancock will ever be far from the action in spirit -- as fate proved on the scoreboard on Thursday.

"I think everybody was a little anxious and wanted to do well," South Summit football coach Jerry Parker told the Tribune of his team's one-sided win on Thursday. "We lost our rhythm in the second quarter, but we did a good job stopping them and getting back on track."

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