OHP football cooperative left an impact, on and off the field

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The Osceola-High Plains Stormdogs rose to the occasion down the stretch, running through a gauntlet of high-powered football schools to win a Class D1 championship in most impressive fashion. Without a doubt, they earned the title of state champions, giving each young man on that roster a badge of honor they’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Watching an area team win a state title, in any sport, is always exciting and there was certainly drama down the stretch as Burwell threatened to spoil the party with a second-half comeback. A fumble in the red zone sealed the win, ending the game with OHP on top, 40-34.
Equally impressive that day, in my opinion, was the humble attitude and positive feedback players and coaches gave for having the opportunity to field a Stormdog team in a two-year cooperative between Osceola and High Plains Community Schools. There was not unanimous community or board support for that decision two years ago, but few could argue with the end results.
On a day filled with emotion, excitement and lifelong memories, it was hard not to feel a sense of regret, and a bit of confusion, knowing that the two schools will go their separate ways come next fall when football season rolls around. And yet, in interview after interview, coaches and players expressed appreciation for the opportunity to join forces, boost their roster and take their game to a higher level. They took the high road and won with class, representing themselves, and their combined schools, extremely well.
Sports are about so much more than wins and losses, offering life lessons to young student-athletes and a sense of unity for schools and host communities. They’ll be talking about the semi-final “Classic in Clarks” decades from now, for example, remembering when an estimated 2,000 fans surrounded the field for an epic game that brought the area communities of Polk, Hordville, Clarks, Osceola, Stromsburg and Benedict together for a night of fantastic football. Win or lose that night, and the following week in Memorial Stadium, it was experience those kids wouldn’t have had as stand-alone programs.
Without question, the OHP football cooperative made sense, and left an impact both on and off the field. It’s unfortunate, and not well understood, why it had to end.
Kurt Johnson

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