HIGHWOOD — Big Sandy’s football team made program history this past year by becoming the first Pioneers team to win a state title.
Following the historic year, led by their seniors Braydon Cline, Kody Strutz, Rusty Gasvoda, and Lance Rutledge, the four of them will be able to take the field together one last time at the 6-Man All-Star Game on Friday.
“It’s pretty special, especially because it’s the first one in school history,” said Cline. “They’re some good, close friends that I get to play football with one more time and it means a lot to me.”
“I was just really glad to be out here with Lance, Kody and Braydon again,” said Gasvoda. “They’ve been really fun for the eight years or so that I’ve played football.”
Kody Strutz helped the Pioneers to an undefeated record in the regular season and gave everything he had during their playoff run but he was unfortunately sidelined the last few games, including the state championship, due to a broken collarbone. Being able to lace up his cleats with his state championship teammates is all he has been looking forward to.
“It really sucked watching them from the sidelines but I was still there for them supporting every single game, every single practice in the cold,” said Strutz. “I’m really looking forward to it. These guys are great athletes. Every one of them deserves to be out here and I’m really looking forward to playing with them one last time.”
The seniors will also get to share the sideline with their head coach Larry Jappe, who has been there for them throughout their high school careers.
“He’s kind of just been there for me and made me into the player that I am today so it’s pretty cool,” said Cline.
“He’s been our coach since I was in the eighth grade. He’s done a lot with us, really opened up to some new things and helped us become the team that we became,” said Strutz.
Jappe has been offered the all-star coaching position before but things didn’t turn out as he planned. During the COVID year, Jappe had five players on the all-star roster, including his son, but the game was never played. He was also selected to coach in last year’s game but he gave up the opportunity because he would not have any seniors on the roster.
This year is the full circle moment where he gets to coach his seniors that helped him ink their names in the school history books.
The Big Sandy all-stars will be on the Red team Friday Night in Highwood.