The really important plays in any athletic event depend on your perspective and -- I suppose -- whether you're a parent of one of the players.
In Bismarck-Henning's 32-0 football shutout at Westville on Friday, there are any numbers of plays which could be described as big. Kevin Allen's three touchdowns would qualify, so would Mo Abbed's three tackles for loss, or interceptions by Braedon Lappin-Pratt and Abbed.
There was also as a Blue Devils' defense which didn't allow a point. As B-H coach Mark Dodd said afterwards, "it was a total team victory."
Here's my take. There were two plays that stood out. Granted, neither altered the outcome of the game, so describing them as "big" requires looking at the game outside of the box.
Interestingly, both plays that caught the attention of this sideline reporter were from the same player, B-H senior Ty Hufford.
The first came in the opening quarter, after he drove Westville quarterback Kyle Brazas out of bounds along the Tigers' sidelines. Surrounded by the opposition, the tendency for most players is to scramble to their feet and rejoin their teammates. Hufford hopped up, then stood and offered Brazas a hand (which he accepted), helping him to his feet.
In an era when we seem to see all too many athletes who thump their chests or otherwise celebrate in the face of the opponent, such a sportsmanship gesture truly stands out.
Hufford's other noteworthy play came in the final 4 minutes, after an Allen touchdown lifted the Blue Devils into a 24-0 lead. Teammate Chase Swinford's squib kickoff drifted toward the north sideline, went off a Westville player and was headed out of bounds as it bounced at the 22-yard line. Hufford's all-out hustle resulted in him pouncing on the loose ball and giving B-H another possession.
It's one thing to see this type of effort and determination when the game is on the line and the outcome could potentially hinge on any given play. It's another entirely to continue going all-out in a game which has been virtually settled, except for the final score. It's a tribute to Hufford that he went after the ball like he would in a 0-0 game and less than 4 minutes to play.
Sure, there were plays that resulted in touchdowns, third-down conversions that kept drives alive, but the two plays I will remember most and the longest are the two that involved Hufford.