HERINGTON, Kan. (WIBW) -- Herington High School has only 141 students but don’t let their size fool you.
They beat out a school in Maryland more than 8 times their size and a school more than 12 times their size in Kentucky, scoring thousands of votes to win a national contest searching for the best moments in high school football.
"We submitted a video on a State Farm website called Friday Night Feats. It’s a program they have where you submit a video of one play and it’s put out there and the nation gets online and votes on it. We happened to be the high vote getter and that’s why we’re here today... Everyone’s excited. It’s been the talk since we found in December. The planning has been hectic but it’s been fun and I’m glad I’m a part of it," said Mark Cook, the school's Assistant Principal and Athletic Director.
"The third place school was in Walkersville, Maryland. In grades 9-12, they have 1,179 students. The second place team at the Daviess County High School in Owensboro, Kentucky- their student population 9-12 is 1,735. Herington High School’s High School population is 141," the school's principal added during a celebration at the school Friday.
In the winning clip, the Herington Railers rallied to beat West Franklin in the second half back in September.
But for the Railers, the footage represents much more than just a thrilling touchdown.
The players learned in the locker room at halftime that their coach, Bud Peterson, had passed away and they fought through the emotions to come back and win, for him.
Peterson had checked into the hospital the week before with pneumonia symptoms and his condition took a turn for the worse.
"It was a tough situation. We found out that we lost coach and told the boys at halftime and we were down 10-0 at halftime. We had a quarterback sneak to make our first score. On the second play there on the video, there was a screen pass off to the right. Ramsey took off running and had to dive for the end zone. That was the game-changing performance right there. A spectacular play for what these kids and this community have been through," said Pat Baalmann, Herington's new football coach.
On Friday, State Farm awarded Herington High their prize- a check for $17,500. The money will be used to purchase new football uniforms and equipment.
"Coach taught us a lot. It was just about football. It was about the game of life. And he wanted to make sure, it didn’t matter who you are, you are ready for life challenges. And this was a big life challenge for us. The kids have really grown up and learned quite a bit from it. We ended up with 5,004 votes for the final week that we had it. To get into the finals, I think we had over 6,000 so it’s a tremendous amount of cooperation with the public and everybody backing us to get us up that high. It’s brought spirit and leadership to the town. This town has struggled a little bit- you’ve got your downfalls and situations. This has really been a tremendous asset to help this community out," Coach Baalmann told 13 News.