The Best Football Play of the Year — Guaranteed to Make You Smile

October 2, 2015 | 8 comments

Thousands of high schoolers will return to the gridiron tonight, but the best football play of the year happened last Friday night on a field not too far from our house.

I wouldn’t have known about it, except that our friend Dan LaRock posted this photo on his Facebook page. Take a close look: two rival teams have taken off their helmets, joined hands, and knelt in prayer — on the football field of a public school.

What happened last Friday night is a remarkable story. It’s the kind of good news we need in a world that can sometimes feel so broken, brutal, bullet-ridden, and bitter.

A few dozen teenagers in the Heartland remind us that human decency, gentleness, and humility are not the virtues of the weak, but the virtues of the strong.

Before the Friday night lights turned on, the two teams were eager for this match up. The rivalry between Hills-Beaver Creek and Edgerton/Ellsworth is always intense. Both of the teams — from southern Minnesota — had been having great seasons. Tensions were high, and the crowd was loud.

Late in the fourth quarter, players collided, and one of the Edgerton/Ellsworth players went down. He was hurt, and he couldn’t get up. He needed to be taken off the field with the help of an ambulance crew.

The crowd went silent. There was a hush of whispers through the crowd: “Hope he’s okay.” “That was a big hit.”

The game ended, and Hills-Beaver Creek came out on top.

The coaches and players shook hands, and both teams had a quick post-game meeting with their teams. This is what happened next: Captains of the two rival teams called all of their players to the center of the field, right there on the football field of a public school.

All of the players formed a circle, hand in hand. They bowed their heads. Dozens of parents and fans stood behind the players. An Edgerton/Ellsworth player led the entire crowd in a group prayer.

Dan says the prayer was focused on hope for the injured player, and praise for good sportsmanship.

“As it was unfolding, I thought to myself, ‘This … is … beautiful,'” Dan told me in a telephone call this morning. “I felt such a sense of joy and peace for these kids, because even though they just got done with a fiercely contested, hard-hitting competition, at the end of the day, they get the bigger picture.”

The player was taken to the hospital and released later that evening.

You know, as parents, we work hard to teach our kids to be respectful and prayerful. We want our kids to play hard, but we also want them to pray hard. We hope that they’ll look to God first; we want that more than anything. And we teach them that while competition is fun, they ought to treat others with dignity. At the end of the day, we tell them, it’s just a game.

We live in a world that teaches us to win at all costs — and to look out for yourself, because no one else will. But on Friday night, a few dozen young men from the Heartland showed us a better way. They taught us what it looks like to do the right thing. They taught us what it looks like to cross lines for a common cause. They taught us that you can set aside differences and link hands. They taught us that prayer matters, and that we are always better together.

They taught us that the strongest, bravest posture of a human being isn’t the stance you take on the scrimmage line. It’s the stance you take when you bow before the Lord in prayer.

dan larock family

Photo of Dan LaRock and his family.

Photos courtesy of Dan LaRock. Used with permission.

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by | October 2, 2015 | 8 comments


  1. Becky Keife

    Chills reading this. Remarkable young men. Thank you for sharing.

    • dukeslee

      Right? I felt the SAME WAY. We were in need of this reminder, I think, that there are some good men being raised up in this world.

  2. Martha Orlando

    Absolutely inspiring! When I read about things like this, my heart soars with hope for the future of our nation. Blessings, Jennifer!

  3. Tara Ulrich

    Love! THIS: “They taught us that the strongest, bravest posture of a human being isn’t the stance you take on the scrimmage line. It’s the stance you take when you bow before the Lord in prayer.” These men showed us what it means to model faith. May we all learn from their example.

  4. Devi Duerrmeier

    Amazing story to read especially after that terrible shooting in Oregon. Good news is a relief.

  5. Pam Ecrement

    What a great story and testimony! You’re right! We need to hear and see this kind offends more often! Thanks so much for sharing it!! It blessed me greatly!

  6. Deborah Will

    What a beautiful story Jennifer. I substitute teach. On the see you at the pole day I was almost in tears as I walked up to one of our high schools and a large group was in front singing.



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